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?
Amazingly, I’ve been in the current house for five years today. How time flies when you’re having fun, and all that piss.
As it stands, this is now the longest I’ve been in any one place since I moved out of the parental home. It’s certainly not my “forever” place (whatever the hell that means) but it does suit me for the moment – and even admitting that feels kind of weird.
There are two significant reasons why I’m more settled here than pretty much anywhere else I’ve lived…
- The location. To coin a cliche, it’s easy to get away from (as I’ve said before) with the M1 for North-South travel, and the A421 for East-West, both within easy reach. It gives me plenty of options, and lets me be away from here on a regular basis while still having somewhere that’s easy to come back to. Compared to (for example) living in Norfolk and Suffolk where it was an hour to get out of the damn county – or onto decent dual carriageway – and this is just easy. Because of that, I’m not keeping on thinking about where would suit me better.
- The finances. While I’m doing a lot better now, and could easily fund a move, it’s more about the credit-checking and so on that would go with any new tenancy. At the moment, I’d likely faily it (or at the least it would cause problems) so it’s easier to stay here. That wouldn’t stop me from moving if I really wanted to – but because of Reason One, that’s not currently the case. And without an urgency to it, why cause myself more problems or hassle than I need to?
As things stand, my tenancies expire in November – because the first tenancy was just six months, and then they’ve extended as 12-month ones. The bankruptcy comes off my record in August 2018. Unless things change radically in the meantime, I think I’ll be here ’til then, and from there I’ll see how I go. So the odds are, another 18 months here, and who knows after that?
As regular readers know, I’m not much for New Year, and certainly don’t celebrate it in the way so many seem to.
However, last year and this, one of the restaurants in Cambridge has offered up a great New Year’s Eve menu, which I’ve taken advantage of.
Last night that’s exactly what happened – I was on the road by about 11.30, and that was fine with me.
It’s interesting, actually. Firstly, that so many people seem incapable of telling time (there were fireworks going off from 11:45) but just how quiet the roads actually were. From about 11:45, I hardly saw another vehicle – it was like driving through a ghostland, I assume because pretty much everyone (except antisocial idiots like me) wants to see the New Year in with friends and family, rather than on the road.
Anyway, it was a nice way to do it (by my standards, anyway) and as midnight clicked, it was nice to see the sky being filled with fireworks as I drove through the darkness.
All told, a good start to the new year…
Over the years, I’ve always known that I love being by the sea. It’s an environment I love – although it makes a lot of other bits of life more complex. (For example, working in London or other techie environments) I’ve lived by the coast a couple of times, and would certainly consider doing so again.
Which all makes it a bit weird that the location I live in currently is about as far away from the sea as it’s possible to be in the UK. And I realised recently that I haven’t actually been to the coast properly since I moved here. Which is quite a surprise for me, it’s fair to say.
So today I upped sticks, and buggered off to Old Felixstowe. It’s an easy run, but still two hours. (And all coast is at least a two-hour run, from the look of it) It made for a really enjoyable day, leaving earlyish, getting over there, walking along the seafront, having lunch, walking back, sitting on the grass above the – well, it’s not a cliff, I don’t know quite what to call it – and just enjoying the sound of the sea on the shingle and so on.
I had been going to take the camera as well, but in the end I couldn’t be arsed. I did get some nice stuff with just the iPhone though, so even that qualifies as a bit of a win.
I had sort-of forgotten how much I like that environment, and it’s certainly something I’m going to look at and consider as part of the plans for 2015 and 2016, depending on how things go. Ideas are bubbling, so we’ll have to see how things go…
On the way to work this morning, I was confronted by road closures and the after-effects of this crash.
Fairly serious – and the damage all looked pretty grim – so I hope all are OK in it.
[Update : As it turns out, they weren’t. One fatal (a motorcyclist)]
This year, I’ve seen a lot of roadkill – as I’ve commented before – which is at least somewhat related to going back to doing a fair amount of driving on fast roads, dual carriageways, motorways and the like.
I don’t mind that too much – although I think it’s quite sad to see it – but there’s something that bugs me about it, which is this.
No matter where the bodies are on the road – including right over by the edge and (particularly on motorways) right in the middle, near the central reservation and safety barrier, right out of the traffic lanes. Yet within a couple of days, the bodies are flattened, all bones crushed and so on.
It’s not decomposition – OK, it could be, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t happen that fast.
All I can assume is that there’s a certain breed of driver who feel it’s acceptable (or perhaps even amusing, I don’t know) to run over the bodies, even if it means curving out of the lane, towards the crash barrier in order to do so.
And really that just boggles my little mind…
Maybe I’m more aware of it this week, with Death of the Mau, but on my drive to and from work I’ve noticed a lot more dead animals by the roadside this week.
Uncommonly, the great majority seem to be badgers (of varying sizes and ages) which I always find very sad. At least these are on dual-carriageways, rather than the completely-intact bodies I sometimes see on the edge of other roads. (I’m never quite convinced that these aren’t actually from farmers/people gassing them, and using the roads as a convenient excuse/reason for dead badger, and disposal thereof. But I’m horrifically cynical)
In my opinion it’s always sad to see dead badgers – they’re awesome creatures – but particularly seeing younger ones depresses me.
I suppose it’s that time though, with semi-mature ones making way for new litters and exploring the world, and also post-winter-sleep. (I know they don’t ‘hibernate’ as such, but they certainly appear to slow down significantly over winter) All the same, you’d hope that a driver would notice a bloody big black-and-white creature lumbering across a dual-carriageway. (I know they don’t, because they have issues noticing other cars, let alone animals. But still, we can hope)