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?
A few weeks ago, I got a weird piece of post – a V5 registration document for a vehicle I’ve never owned, to a name I’d never heard of, but with my address on it.
Having asked around a bit (in case the person was just a cretin who put in the wrong address) it turns out that this is a semi-common scam, registering a vehicle to a different address in order to avoid parking and speeding tickets etc.
As such, some people suggest that it should be registered as SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) but that still connects the vehicle to the address, and leaves you open to receiving documents, fines etc.
Instead, I decided to instead return the document to DVLA, along with a cover note explaining that I didn’t know the car and didn’t know the person, and had been at current address long enough to know that the person hadn’t lived there any time in the last decade. I scanned in both documents so I’ve also got a record of it, should it be needed.
Yesterday, I got a response from DVLA, which confirms that what I did is the best thing to do. They’ve removed the connection of my address to the vehicle, although it’s still possible that some fines etc. may come to me – but in that case, to send the issuing authority a copy of the letter received, and confirm that It’s Not Mine.
So, interesting to see how things work. Hopefully I won’t get any further issues with it, but I’m as protected as possible if anything does happen.
Fucking hell, I’m 50.
Over the last few years (well, really since the bankruptcy) I’ve kept a fairly close eye on my credit score – mainly using ClearScore (who use Equifax data) and CreditKarma (which used to be Noddle, and use TransUnion’s data). Both services are free in perpetuity, and have done a pretty good job so far.
Anyway, back in 2019 I’d put a few things on credit (intentionally) and then merged it all onto one interest-free balance-transfer card which gave me a longer term to pay things off. And my credit score went super-high, and has stayed there since.
In the last couple of months, I’ve completely paid that off, and all my cards now have a zero balance – which is a pretty good feeling, I can’t deny. It’s always been well within my means, but still, it’s nice to be completely clear.
However, that’s had a significant knock-on effect on my score – because I owe nothing, my credit score has dropped by about 10% this month. I know it kind-of sort-of makes sense, that they ‘can’t gauge my indebtedness’ if that figure is zero, but it also means that I could utilise 100% of my income to go into credit, yet somehow that’s less valuable. As is, of course, the perfect record for borrowing and paying back. (Albeit without paying any bloody interest whatsoever)
All of which goes to show, yet again, that credit-scoring really is a monumental load of old bollocks.
It’s been weird this year already, in that I’ve seen a number of people who’ve already put up their Christmas trees and so on, even more prematurely than usual. There seems to be a school of thought that says it’s OK because “we need something to look forward to“, but that rings with the dull plop of bullshit. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m more of the viewpoint that even if I started today, I’d be sick of the bloody event by the time it comes round. Adding another two weeks to that is surely just a way to be even more jaded about it all.
But then, as we know, I’m a grouch.
I’ve also been gobsmacked about the hysteria around “We’ve got to have our Christmas“, and the mindset that people would’ve broken all the rules in order to have “a proper normal family Christmas“. We’ll get past the horrific racism of the government being quite happy to cancel the festivals of other religions (The first Lockdown was announced less than 24 hours before Eid, and the second one blocked Diwali – and I’m fairly sure there’s been at least one more festivity that’s taken a kicking) while Christmas is apparently the be-all and end-all of UK Civilisation.
Honestly, I’ll be glad when this year’s over and done with. I don’t think 2021 is going to be any easier, although there’s some hope on the horizon with Covid vaccines etc. But it’s still looking like it’ll be another ongoing hellscape – just possibly slightly less of one than this year has been.
Again, I can’t deny, I’ve been lucky throughout the whole Covid thing this year, and I’ve been affected far less than a lot of people have. I know that, and I accept it. But I’ll still be happy to be through this year.
This weekend was remarkably unproductive, and yet I’m actually OK with it for once.
I’d had a lot planned – initially I was going to be going to a restaurant in London, but I moved that forward by a couple of weeks – nothing about Lockdown, just that I saw the menu two weeks ago had some things I really wanted, and they couldn’t be certain they’d still be on by now, so I moved things around.
Once that had changed, I’d then lined up an archery coaching session on the Saturday, and we were due to have a competition shoot on Sunday. However, with the new Lockdown, archery is (for some fuckforsaken reason) specifically included in the “thou shalt not operate” lists, so all of that got cancelled too. I’ve no idea why outdoor archery isn’t allowed – even in competitions, no-one’s even close to each other, and certainly when I’ve been using the range on a Friday it’s just me using it. There’s certainly no issue with any of it being crowded!
So yes, I had lots of plans, and none of them happened – which is frustrating, to say the least.
However, it’s been good to have the downtime. I meant to do some stuff from home, and failed entirely to do so, but instead caught up on some reading, and did stuff that was exceptionally quiet and relaxed. It was pretty good, all things considered.
Today is day 266 of 2020. There’s only another 100 to go.
I’m not going to tempt fate (or give it ideas) by saying things couldn’t get worse. They could. Knowing the way this year’s gone so far, they probably will.
In the meantime, I’m going to be slightly altering the restaurant plans and bookings I’d already made for the rest of this year, following on from today’s (frankly bizarre) “everywhere’s got to close by 10pm” dictat.
I’m not sure what makes things safer by closing pubs, restaurants and food places by 10pm – as other restaurateurs have said, they’ve worked hard on making sure entry/exit times were staggered, whereas now it’s going to be a big exodus at one time.
It’s all just weird.