My local council are, to be polite, utterly fucking useless. Their skills in organisation, communication, professionalism and competence appear to be absolutely zero – in fact, most of the time I doubt they could even spell any of those words, let alone be good at them.
But, after literally years of nagging, they’ve finally done two of the jobs I’ve been nagging them about.
First, we start with The Bridge
Six years ago (I’ve probably written about it before, but can’t be arsed currently to check) we had a mains water line burst near the village – a burst that was so powerful, it destroyed the bridge wall that the pipe was next to. Now, it’s not a main road per se (i.e. it’s not an A-road or motorway) but it is one of the two main roads from my village to Milton Keynes and the motorway. So it’s not short of a fair bit of traffic.
Initially, Anglian Water put up some cones/barriers and traffic lights so that the road was usable (kinda/sorta) but reduced to one lane, on the side that wasn’t missing half a bridge wall. That situation remained for about six months (with regular failures of the traffic lights) until I asked Anglian Water what was actually happening, and had they forgotten about the bloody thing. Turned out, they had forgotten. And there began the saga of getting it fixed.
Anglian moved things about, put in a temporary fence and barrier, opened the road up, and tried to get a repair done. (Which was fraught with its own issues around who actually owned the fucking thing, who was responsible for what, etc. etc.) The council insisted it should be done by their Highways department, who would do the work properly, and all that happy crap. So after eighteen months, Anglian handed the entire clusterfuck over to Central Bedfordshire Council, as requested, and washed their hands of the problem.
For four years I’ve been asking when it’s going to happen, what’s occurring, and so on. It’s outlasted four admin assistants, and two managers. And every time they’ve said “Oh, it’s all scheduled, we’ll hopefully have it done in about three months time“. I do realise there’ve been a lot of hassles – again, with who owns the bridge and the land underneath it, who’ll be stumping up the money, how it’ll all work and so on. But it’s been four years where it would’ve been all too possible for someone to come off the road, through the fence, and end up twenty-odd feet down underneath it. After every decent storm we’ve had, I’ve had to contact the council and suggest that they might want to come and put the fence back up, along with the holders/barrier that’ve fallen over.
But about a month ago, signs went up around the bridge saying that work was going to start, and take about eight weeks. And it actually started, and has been progressing nicely. (Not that anyone from the council has thought to send a message saying “Hey, just to catch you up, it’s all happening”. That would be expecting far too much from them!
Second – the other bridge.
Back at the start of the pandemic, in the next village to mine, someone went on a graffiti spree, writing/spraying stuff on all the village’s road signs and so on. Nothing monumentally offensive, just stupid shit that no-one needs to see. And in fairness, Central Bedfordshire’s Highways department cleaned most of it off comparatively quickly. (I think it only took them a fortnight to get rid of the stuff that was nasty about Central Beds Council, and then about another two months to get rid of the less offensive but stupid stuff)
And then when Captain Tom hysteria was at its peak (Captain Tom was from the village I live in, so it was all relevant locally) they sprayed a big message about him on one of the other local bridges. You can see some of it below, or go to Google Streetview here for the full experience
That’s taken two and a half years to get rid of, but finally got cleaned off last month. Of course, others who’ve seen how long it takes Central Beds to sort these things, have also taken to graffiti’ing local walls and so on. Fine, it may be an influx of new people, but before the first lot happened (and that person has since moved away) we never saw any happening. Now though, I can easily think of eight or nine sites that have been hit.
Again, allegedly there were problems for the council in gaining permissions/clearances to clean that bridge – it goes over a railway line, and they were saying they couldn’t clean/wash the bridge while things might be running underneath, although that sounds like bullshit. The cleaning job when it finally happened didn’t go over the top of the bridge wall at all, so nothing would’ve been affected. But there we go.
Purely personally, I suspect that if that graffiti had said “Central Beds council are useless bastards” it would’ve only been there a couple of weeks. But because it was about Captain Tom, I wonder if they thought it would be worse to get rid of it than to leave it. I don’t know.
Anyway. Both jobs have (finally) been done, and it’s really nice that I won’t have to nag the useless bastards any more. But things like this shouldn’t take that long to get sorted. If it had been me in charge of either project I’d have got the work done, and *then* chased whoever needed to pay for it, including court stuff if necessary. But the general public don’t need to see those delays, regardless of the cause – we just want to see stuff that’s been broken get fixed.
I don’t know what the answers are on all this – but government (both local and national) at the moment just seems like one giant clusterfuck of ineffectiveness and general incompetence. And surely there must be better ways than what we’ve currently got?
It seems at the moment like there’s a massive conspiracy going on that makes access from my area to Milton Keynes into an absolute nightmare.
Last month, the Highways Agency started work on the M1 from J13 to 16, installing “smart motorways” stuff, and shoving in a dirty long 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed cameras. (And there’ll be a post on those some other time) That work is going on ’til March 2022.
Next month, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils are starting the second phase of their joint project to make the A421 dual-carriageway between J13 of the M1 and Milton Keynes. That’s going to have a 40mph limit on it, and will be in place ’til the end of 2020.
So for the next 18 months minimum, the two primary routes into Milton Keynes will be speed-limited and being worked on at the same time.
And then just to top things off, one half of the other primary route (on the other side of Milton Keynes) is undergoing resurfacing work for the next couple of months – which means that my only other primary route is going to be handling all the traffic that should be on that one.
Like I said, it’s all just seeming like either a sinister plot, or a massive organisational clusterfuck. Both of which have the same results, when all’s said and done.
Just now, my local authority (Central Bedfordshire council) tweeted this, which is hilariously badly-worded…
I replied, asking them if they meant that it was an event for underage drinking/drinkers, or if they meant it to be an event informing about (and/or preventing/reducing) underage drinking – as it certainly looked like the former.
In fairness, they then responded, and removed the original tweet.
But still, it made me laugh, picky and pedantic bastard that I am.
They then replaced that tweet with this one…
It really isn’t a good day for Central Beds’ social-media team. But it’s a very funny one for me…
Last week, there was a new addition to the skyline at home – and for a fair dollop of the surrounding area.
It’s obviously been planned for a while, but it’s really only been in the last month that I’ve seen a new wind turbine being erected at the Forestry Centre. It went up mid-February, but the turbine blades were only added last week, which is when it became truly noticeable. (There are chimney stacks around the place, so the initial turbine stalk didn’t stand out as much)
And now it’s visible – for quite a distance. I can see it as I come in past Bedford, and also as I come over the hill in the other direction. It’s pretty impressive.
Fortunately, I like wind turbines – I like the sight of them, and the sound. But I’m willing to bet there’s some NIMBY bastards who’ll complain about it.