The public spending slalom

 

                Going into London by car, and finding my way round the centre on foot, I have to run  the gauntlet of large amounts of public spending. I kept a mental note one day last week. On the way out of Crowthorne I had to wait whilst four vehicles with more than  half a dozen men closed the road in the direction I was heading in  order to tidy the verges. Further on, there were more works on the A322. The M3 still has a long section of 50 mph restriction with various roadworks being undertaken. In Richmond there was another missing lane for roadworks. It was not possible to work out what they were doing. Along the Cromwell Road there are restrictions on the carriageway to allow a complete rebuilding of the pavements. Along the Embankment by Millbank they are  putting new wide pavements in to the middle of the road with aggressive kerbs. The roadspace is similarly being reduced along Pall Mall, with a pavement being put in the middle of that road. In  other locations around the West End there are works putting in expensive granite paving where once there was tarmac road.

It does not feel as if there is a spending squeeze on when you see this kind of work proceeding. We have managed without a wide pavement in the centre of the Embankment or Pall Mall for many years. Why is it suddenly urgent to spend money on this right now, in the middle of a spending crisis?

I also noticed a profusion of relatively new signs, freshly coloured paint on the roads and plenty of sets of traffic lights, some of them fairly new. I did not notice many new features which would help keep traffic and pedestrians apart to improve safety, nor junction changes to make them freer flowing and safer. There are still plenty of sets of London traffic lights where they have red in every direction phases for cars. I rarely see someone wanting to cross both ways at the same time taking advantage of this.  I am mainly a pedestrian in London. As such, I can say it does not usually help me to have all red sequences.

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75 Comments

  1. zorro
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    John,
    There have been interminable works on the Windsor relief road off the M4. Again, you rarely see actual work going on there. It is difficult to see what improvements are actually taking place. As for traffic lights, what about the new arrangement there…..slowing down a few cars for no real reason. I am in no doubt that a lot of these schemes go ahead because someone didn’t want to go back with an underspend, and actually save some money. This culture is I’m afraid all pervading in the Civil Service no matter what they say. They will always cut frontline workers rather than their own secretariats which hide their own inefficiency, thus protecting their budgets but cutting useful staff from the lesser increase they now receive.

    zorro

  2. zorro
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I mean the traffic light arrangement at Winnersh Triangle.

    zorro

  3. lifelogic
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Traffic management in London is a complete joke all done in accordance with the green religion rather than any logic. No proper investment in real infrastructure, bridges or underpasses, just silly endless junction reworking, pointless signs, traffic lights and blockages. And very poor direction signs for cars too.

    Light are phased to block traffic – priority is for bikes and pedestrians not in proportion to actual users. Environmental areas have roads blocked off forcing people to drive further and in and out of their house/business via one congested access . Often this results in one broken down bus, truck or car causing chaos and gridlock as all the other routes have been barred or made into bus lanes with cash cow cameras.

    Junction are reworked endlessly usually getting worst (for traffic) each time as islands get bigger, light phasing more mad and more and more sets of lights are inserted. All of which need constant repair as they are hit by vehicles regularly.

    One particular favourite is to take two lanes and make them into a bus lane and a car lane then one car waiting to turn right at the lights ensures that only one or two cars get through at each light change. The inside bus lane usually being empty or with a bus with 3 or 4 passenger in it but camera protected to raise tax.

    It is all based on the incorrect belief that buses, walking and bikes are more “green” they are not. I enjoy walking and cycling very much as anyone but buses take, on average, over the full day depot to depot, often as low as 6 passengers and take indirect routes stopping every few hundred yard.

    Bikes and walking are fuelled by addition food intake. It is not efficient to fuel transport be growing grass and grain, feeding this to to cattle flying it round the world putting it in small plastic supermarket packets, cooking it and eating it with a bottle of claret and side salad.

    If it is perhaps we should design a steak, chips and wine car.

    This is a green religion – what people will believe if subjected to the endless BBC and Government propaganda it is not science or logic in any true sense. Congestion is the main cause of wasted fuel. Congestion however seems to be the main aim of UK road management.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Perhaps I should add that people often believe that buses carry far more than six. The buses people catch tend to be the full ones (by definition) the ones perhaps going into town at peak times. This is because the full bus is used by many the empty one by none and so is a statistical sampling problem.

      Depot to Depot in and out of town, peak and off peak the figure is often as low as six for a large cumbersome vehicle, with a large engine, taking an indirect route and stopping frequently thus causing congestion to others. Also needing a driver with his/her energy use to be counted in too.

      “One red bus is greener than 56 cars” or whatever the advert was is a pure lie but the ASA failed to act.

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        In London when the traffic lights have a complete power failure it all works with far less congestion than normal – what are they therefore all for?

  4. JimF
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    “It does not feel as if there is a spending squeeze on when you see this kind of work proceeding”
    but there isn’t.

    There’s a wave of inflation which is doing a bit of the work which lack of spending cuts aren’t doing. Perhaps we need a psychologist on board to answer the question as to how long and how many real wage cuts there need to be before the roads and pavements no longer get mended, traffic lights work even less well, and so on, because there’s nobody to do the job at the going rate.

  5. Geoff not Hoon
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Mr. Redwood, isnt it all part of the myth of cut backs when in reality apart from a few front line workers being treated as sacrificial lambs life carry’s on pretty much as before. Also remember the various bodies have to spend their monies before the end of March or their allocation for the year following will suffer. They wouldnt want that to happen would they.
    I really do wonder when the coalition is going to face up to the debt, its interest cost and the mess we are in, pretending still to be a world power, if it isnt soon we might as well invite Labour to form the next government now and not in 4 years time.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Yes a lot of projects in hand, and in work in progress on many roads.

    New road obstruction schemes built in the name of traffic management.

    Many more signs, many more lines, many different coloured tarmac areas, many more sets of traffic lights (now common on mini roundabouts) increased parking charges, more speed humps and uniformed officers hiding behind walls/hedges (yes it does happen) with speed guns, congestion charges, camera operated fines for box junction interventions.

    BUT Potholes remain and get worse. Utility services usually fail to make good properly and so our roads continue to disintigrate.

    We than have changes of plan projects which were thought a good idea at the time, being reversed, latest one (to get any publicity) in Brighton where an expensive cycle lane is now proposed to be removed at a cost of over £1,000,000.

    And Fuel prices go up, fuel tax goes up, Public transport fares go up.

    If you had stopped your journey or made a diversion when in Richmond, to the Old Deer Car park (opposite side of road to Richmond swimming pool) you would see the nonesense of some car parking scheme, where you pay different charges depending on the time of day, the day of the week, and the emissions of your vehicle.

    Yes that is right you pay according to the emissions of your vehicle as if it was moving, but is actually nil when parked !

    Most people scratch their heads as not many know the actual rated emissions of their vehicle, so end up paying the maximum just to be safe to avoid a fine !

    Have you been around the new traffic light system at Winnersh Triangle yet John ?

    Commonsense has gone out of the window.

    Reply: I have often had the misfortune to use the Winnersh traffic light slalom, and have asked the Council to think again about how many lights it takes to run a roundabout. They are happy with their work.

  7. gyges
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Your experience suggests a couple of questions:

    (i) When is the right time to stop Keynesian spending?
    (ii) If Keynesian spending is abused – assuming you accept Keynesianism – what happens when you need Keynesian spending?

    Reply: Keynes urged more spending and borrowing in a slump, and less borrowing and restrained spending in a boom. The UK need to generate more jobs in the private sector, to transfer people from dole to work. This requires a competitive tax and regulatory regime to allow the private sector to expand, and banking system able to finance it. At current levels more spending and borrowing by the public sector would damage cionfidence and threaten higher interest rates. The government is not proposing to cut overall spending.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      JR Your reply is spot on “This requires a competitive tax and regulatory regime to allow the private sector to expand, and banking system able to finance it.” Might this perhaps be provided soon. Start by getting rid of the no retirement age nonsense and the insurance sex equality rules recently introduced and nearly all the the rest of employment regulations, Health Safety, Green and “equality” nonsense.

      At the moment Cameron is making things even worse.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Care to name any specific ones?

        • lifelogic
          Posted March 6, 2011 at 6:37 am | Permalink

          You should be able to fire people easily and cheaply.
          Working at heights directive.
          Rubbish/recycling licences and many of the pointless recycling schemes.
          Gas safely over the top nonsense.
          Energy performance certificate nonsense.
          The absurd HIP packs which have at least gone in part.
          Nearly the whole of the green over priced energy agenda.
          No loose litigation structures.
          Sensible no squatting laws are needed.
          Retirement of older worker indeed any workers as needed.
          The nonsense men = woman laws in insurance and elsewhere.
          Much of the nonsense planning restrictions and building control restrictions.
          The equality and renewable agenda
          The list is endless and costs the country a fortune in last jobs and pointless activity.

          • Bazman
            Posted March 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

            In a nutshell. No health and safety, hire and fire at will, no equality legislation or planning laws. You forgot the minimum wage legislation any reason? It would be interesting to live in an England like this. The child labour and welfare laws could be repealed too. It would be like living in Britain in the 1800’s. Work or starve. Work until you drop. Unless these rules apply to you of course. Sound familiar? The health and safety laws are usually scoffed at by desk jockeys and ‘can’t get the staff types’
            Have a read of a book called ‘The ragged Trousers Philanthropists’ Lifelogic. it might cool down your views that in a City pub full of twenty something would go down well. I only talk it cos I live it.

          • lifelogic
            Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

            Thanks Bazman – Yes the minimum wage should go too if people want to work for less why on earth should the law prevent them?

            Not all health and safety should go just about the 80% that is counter productive.

        • lojolondon
          Posted March 6, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          Health and safety legislation is a total stupid controlling waste, the real sign of a communist state.
          Human rights legislation undermines our once great legal system and throws up completely undesired results, implemented by Blair (who had a wife who worked in the field – amended version)

    • rose
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      I am glad you are reminding us of what Keynes actually said. More to the point, what would he prescribe now? This is a question the lumpenintelligentsia never ask, so busy are they trotting out what they have picked up at dinner parties about him, or been told by the BBC.

      • rose
        Posted March 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

        I often imagine Keynes coming back and thinking he must be having a nightmare, looking at what governments have done with public spending and borrowing, and the printing of money. Similarly Beveridge, coming back to see the Welfare State we have created for the whole world to colonise, and the effect it has had on the British people he wished to pull up and out of dependency.

        • alan jutson
          Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          Rose

          Agreed

  8. Javelin
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Didn’t we vote for spending cuts?

    After the Welsh vote for more autonomy it is another kick in the teeth for democracy.

    The West Lothian Question, the BofE MPC, Eu Courts, Eu Parliament, The House of Lords, Immigration etc, it’s all mounting up against democracy.

    This kind of creep does not just happen without at least implicit tensions in the democratic geist. The main three parties are getting themselves into an increasingly unstable and unjustifiable political position.

    I’m not a supporter of UKIP – as they are a one issue party – but should they switch to becoming a party of democracy and say the right things for a couple of years, I think they could flip politics on its head in a single shock election.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      On paper UKIP is already a party of democracy, more so than any of the older parties. After all its primary aim is the restoration of our national parliamentary democracy free from proto-federal EU control.

      However there’s a real question about how much democracy people can cope with in practice. Not how much they want when they’re concerned about some specific issue, but how much they can incorporate into their everyday lives when there are so many other demands on their time and energy.

      It’s possible to argue that we shouldn’t be having a national referendum just once in a lifetime or just once in a generation, but rather once or even twice a year.

      But then there’s the counter-argument that with more frequent referendums (and elections) voting fatigue would set in and fewer and fewer people would bother to take part in each of them.

      As a current example the Welsh have just had a referendum on increasing the powers of the Assembly, and the turnout was only 35%.

      Maybe if would be different if we could have a referendum when enough of the people actively wanted a referendum rather than when the politicians graciously decided to grant one, only on a topic of their choosing and with a question of their devising.

      I wonder whether a formal petition demanding a referendum on the powers of the Welsh Assembly would have got enough support to trigger a referendum if the threshold had been set at 10% or even 5% of registered voters.

      • Jamess
        Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        If every tax increase and every new law that led to a restriction of freedom had to be approved by referendum we would quickly rediscover democracy.

  9. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    This sort of nonsense can be multiplied many times. It has been seen all around the country as authorities dream up more and more ways to waste taxpayers’ money and make driving cars more and more difficult.

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      They will always dream up more ways to waste money the only control over them doing this is what nonsense they are allowed to get away with. The only control the public have is through the occasional vote for MPs, MEPs and Councillors but on a basket of issues for people who will not do what they promised anyway and often subverted by the courts or by “consultancy” fees.

      In practice virtually none whatsoever. So the madness continues and the tumour continues to grow to choking off the wealth creators or making them move away.

      • Bazman
        Posted March 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        I think you will find that many of these mythical ‘wealth creators’ only ever create wealth for themselves and their cronies.
        The trickle down effect has been utterly disproved. Though I suspect many people want to continue disproving these failed policies.

        • lifelogic
          Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

          You are wrong – when someone has wealth beyond their actual needs the surplus wealth has to be spent or invested usually the latter.

          Either way a considerable amount is paid in taxes or spent – much tax and employment is the result. People with money usually make good spending and investment decisions as that is often why they have money in the first place. Certainly better than the state who nearly always waste it. The more millionaires who can keep their money and invest it wisely in the UK the better. Alas Cameron seems to want them all to leave.

          “The trickle down effect has been utterly disproved.” By whom and what is the alternative “tax and waste” I assume?

          • Bazman
            Posted March 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

            Rather depends on the money being invested in the country or region it was created in. Much of the money is stashed into foreign bank accounts, invested in other countries or just simply spent on some massive mansion in a tax haven. This policy in America just made the rich richer whilst increasing the public deficit. Massive tax cuts with little benefit to the country, taxes that could have funded many infrastructure projects. with the middle taking the shortfall. In the real world one person can only spend so much and how will it increase wages?

          • lifelogic
            Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

            Bazman,

            If I build a mansion it creates lots of jobs for builders which clearly pushes up demand for builders and thus wage rates. I do not enslave builders they choose to work for me because it is better than working somewhere else.

            One can see why the money might go abroad because left here the state will tax it at 50% and 40% IHT on death and probably pour the proceeds down the drain on some green energy or equality nonsense.

            Far better for all to do something useful with it myself surely.

          • Simon
            Posted March 7, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            Doesn’t it depend upon what it is invested in too ?

            Footballer Robbie Fowler invested money in property thus helping to drive up the price of houses beyond the reach of the common man .

            George Best invested it in women , fast cars and booze .

            It’s better for the the average man in the street for the country to have more George Bests and less Robbie Fowlers isn’t it ?

          • lifelogic
            Posted March 9, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            Yes is depends what it is invested in the nearly anything is better that the government’s choices of “investment”.

  10. Richard
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, many similar examples are occurring around Birmingham too.
    I suspect this sudden frenzy of activity is caused by the public sector desperately trying to spend their remaining budget before the end of their financial year.

    When I was involved in manufacturing this was always our busiest time of the year.

    Until the mad rules of public sector budgets are changed to give an incentive to underspend instead of an incentive to overspend, then this is what we will all continue to see at around this time each year.

  11. BrianSJ
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    End of the Financial Year. Spend it or lose it. Insanity of course but that is what you are looking at.

    • James Matthews
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. Hundreds of thousands of public sector managers with a perverse incentive to spend whatever budgets they are given to the last pound (often, failure to do this is regarded as an adverse performance indicator for the purposes of promotion and merit payments). Change this idiotic system and the deficit would solve itself.

  12. oldtimer
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    My theory is that local authorities like to look busy when there is a local government election in the offing. What better way to grab attention and give the impression of doing something than to start road works, paint white lines down the middle of the road, and yellow lines down the sides. It has occurred time and time again where I live. This year is a little more tricky because they have pot holes to worry about. They cannot fill the pot holes fast enough – as soon as they fill ten another ten appear elswhere.

    As for the chaos caused by the Windsor relief road with its single way system with no sign of work done or accomplished, it is only exceeded by the utter confusion of the spaghetti junction that is trying to replace the roundabout at the end of it. I am not a Windsor and Maidenhead resident but if I was then serious questions would be asked about the utter muddle that passes for the road system thereabouts.

    • HJBbradders
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Funny that you should say this. I have lived in Derby for the past year and have been amazed by the number of roadworks taking place. The centre of the city is disrupted, main roads into the city are partially blocked. Every week I seem to stumble across a new roadworks that has sprung up. The council has even replaced large numbers of streetlights that, as far as I can see, were perfectly adequate. It is as if the council had a pot of money and either has to spend it or lose it.

  13. English Pensioner
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Same here in Buckinghamshire. Plenty of money to make humps in the roads, extra islands and keep left signs, “tactile” paving, change speed limits etc, all on the grounds of health ans safety. Humps were installed near a local school because “if we don’t, and a child is killed or injured near the school, the council could be sued for failing in its duty of care” (But when it suits them, heads say “we have no responsibility for behaviour outside school).
    But the council has no money to repair pot holes, broken paving, failed street lights or other routine maintenance. Large numbers of “keep left” signs have been broken and replaced by unlit cones, and those still there are so filthy that even if the light is working, it can’t be seen through the mud and filth.
    Most house owners wouldn’t even think of improvements or extensions to their home until the existing property is in an acceptable state of repair; Councils do the opposite, plenty of new work but neglect the old, which accounts for the state of many of our schools. They’ve never heard of “A stitch in time saves nine”!

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely always a brand fashionable project, new junction scheme, bus lane or silly bike signs all over – never just fill the odd pothole, fix the lights, clean the signs and cut the tree back that is covering them up.

      The number of zebra crossing that the worn to almost invisible and have no light bulbs or floods is huge.

  14. David Whitford
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I think the gold medal goes to the roundabout with 6 exits in, I think, Portsmouth that has had a traffic makeover & now boasts 73 traffic lights & a couple of pedestrian crossings for good measure. My daily drive takes me along a short section of road which for the past few weeks has been narrowed by cones in order to implement the new cycle superhighway from Wandsworth to Westminster. A lot of work & people involved in moving the kerb back about 6 inches & then tarmacing the inside section for the cycle route in bright Barclays blue. A lot of money spent (& how much, if any, is Barclays kicking in?) but the road is still narrow, busy with HGVs, buses & cars and I for one would not be encouraged to take up cycling into Central London along this dangerous route just because of this cosmetic makeover.

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      David

      Blue tarmac !

      Not seen that one before, other than for disabled parking areas.

      We have beige, red, green, and of course the traditional colour here in Wokingham. We also have kiddies official drawings on road signs, to indicate a school is in the area.

      Given all of the above, and pictures of cyclists in white on the green tarmac areas, and now more and more on paths, with white lines painted almost everywhere, the place is looking like toy town.

      The joke is at night when it is raining (the most dangerous time you would have thought) you cannot tell green tarmac from red, beige or the original, as the lights (Car and street) reflect off of the wet roads.

    • VIVID
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I always say that cycle lanes next to railways would be great except that idiots who went onto the tracks would make it a non-starter.

  15. Martin
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Maybe the councils/central government are spending cash quick because of the policy of devaluation.

    As to whether these works are useful/efficient is another story. The GLA is controlled by Mayor Boris and Westminster Council is Conservative controlled.

    My gut feeling is that we have more of these weird road scheme than other countries in the EU.

  16. StronholdBarricades
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Could it be that age old central govt dictat:

    Use it or lose it, because local govt isn’t allowed to carry over money, and it feels it has an obligation to “spend” to ensure no reduction in next years budget?

  17. Steve Cox
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Just as Geoff not Hoon said above, it’s partly a year-end, “let’s be sure to spend all the budget” thing. Plus,I should imagine, with the very long lead times for making any significant changes, especially in central London, this was probably planned, approved and budgeted for some time ago. I’d guess that it’s a hangover of Labour’s natural tendency to throw (and waste) money on any pet project. Should these be stopped now? I can’t say, to be honest, as I avoid London like an overpriced plague.

    I have worked my whole life for several highly profitable multinational oil companies, and they all suffer from the same malaise. You fight to get a budget for something, convince senior management and (often highly sceptical) partners to approve a few million quid for the current year, and end up looking silly if you fail to deliver. So there’s always pressure to spend, spend, spend. Oil companies, of course, are spending their own money, so one would hope that priorities are different in the public sector, but I doubt it very much. It’s all about keeping your little empire intact nowadays.

  18. Derek Buxton
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    A good article but overdue. All the things you mention have been happening in the NW for some years. It is all designed quite deliberately to cause congestion and attack the motorist. In Stockport alone so much money is just plain waste that they could reduce the Council extortion and actually repair the potholes. The latter of course will be the last thing they will even think about. Unfortunately I do not see our greener than green government doing anything about it.

  19. Matt Woods
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s called “use it or lose it”. In my neighbourhood in Hackney, the Olympic Delivery Authority gave, fairy godmother-like, a grant to the local area of £20,000 to be used for improving the public realm.

    Today, I found two diggers ripping up flowerbeds and preparing to dig out four flowering cherry blossom trees. When I spoke to one of the workmen, he said the council were paying £20,000 for the work, despite having spent money only a few weeks ago re-bricking the flowerbeds and tidying them up.

    Luckily, I’ve managed to salvage the trees for our nearby square, so they will live on, along with the rosemary bushes I picked up.

    Can there be any better illustration of the madness of the public sector spending culture than repairing some flowerbeds and four weeks later ripping them up just so that people can look busy?

  20. Damien
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    The previous blog on the head count of various government departments is relevant here also. There is a direct correlation between the total number and the total spend. Your analysis introduces an new element, increased spending while budgets are supposed to be reduced.

    Take where I live. We have 1100 homes on 166 acres owned and managed by the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), a favorite Labour quango. Instead of creating meadows to encourage ecology they have instead opted for 60 acres of highly manicured lawns and parks. Not only are these labour intensive but in the past year there seems to be a spate of new spending on vehicles and increased frequency of gardening patrols!

    There are 1.5m people countrywide who cannot find allotments to grow their own produce but yet the largest institutions are spending millions on non-core activities like this example of the HCA. Surely it would be a great boost to the big society to allow local communities to have allotments on the underutilized government/quango/local authority/hospital and MOD lands etc (with standard 6 month notice to allow for future development) ?

  21. rose
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I see the problem as being the result of a much too big bureaucracy in which no-one is in overall charge of any one place, let alone any one street. We had our road resurfaced when it didn’t need it, and in noisy tarmac not quiet; they made a horrid mess of it and no-one checked because it was out to contract and they took just half an hour; yet the pavements, walls, and railings at the side haven’t been touched for over twenty years and are in a dangerous and depressing state of collapse. Contracts and budgets are as asinine as the law when there aren’t intelligent people overseeing their administration to make sense of them and serve the common good.

    • rose
      Posted March 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      The “parking services2 people are the most profligate and the most irresponsible, as well as the most philistine. They installed ugly street furniture all over the place, including superfluous signposts and now out of date machines, rammed into the original 18th century pavements every few yards. No-one reads them but quite a few people stumble into them and they look hideous. Long after parking services have become an anachronism these ugly obstructions will still be there. Yet vital maintenance work which needs doing never is.

  22. Bazman
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    At least some work is being done during the last Tory government the infrastructure was falling to pieces. Just You Tube a town or area you know well during those times.

  23. Bernard Otway
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    I just do not go to London at all,and it can’t be just me,businesses should rebel it has to be costing them money,tell the central London councils to go look at downtown Johannesburg
    and what has happened to it in a very different way,then realise why Sandton looks like it does a few miles north it’s prosperity is central joburg’s loss,go ask the landlords what they think,of their values at less than half.
    And while I am at it any comments about the moderation[censorship] of Conhome from others here.

  24. Kevin Marshall
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    This afternoon I had a lift in my friend’s new Jaguar XF. I noticed two things. First how hard the suspension is on the car. Second how much the the road surfaces have deteriorated over the winter.
    It strikes me that whilst we spend a lot of money on expensive schemes with very little benefit, there is little spent on cheap but effective patching, or simple re-surfacing.

  25. david englehart
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    it is the same in hove.
    the labour council spent a small fortune ruining a lovely wide road that would have had listed status were it a building by creating a cycle route thereby increasing congestion for the many peple who have to work to pay the taxes to keep the non workers fed and able to spend their days in the pub and/or the betting shop.
    the new council has just decided to restore the road at a cost of a million pounds.
    if you assume the original cost at a similar figure then multiply 2 million by the number of towns in the UK which have say over 200000 people and this sort of waste will run into billions.
    the self centred morons running local government are good at spending someone else’s money.
    the older i get and the more i see of the stupidity of humanity the more i love my dog.

  26. Iain Gill
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Well said

    The country should just adopt the policies of the association of British drivers

  27. J leslie smith
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    We are a Country of men and women led by Political “Donkeys” Our Politicians, once in “Power” play games of pragmatic spin, via their so called Chiefs of Staff and their Media Directors. We see too few serious Honourable members acting and voting for our Country first, and for the People who voted for them, in matters of sorting out escalating and deeply disturbing EU control of our democracy and out of control cost contributions, decided by unelected faceless people in Brussels. The Banks appear totally outside of any democratic control, as does the City of London. Town Hall CEO’s laugh at us all as they quietly increase their own salaries and pensions to amounts of money well in excess of the compensation we pay to our only Prime Minister.

    How do we justify a Town Hall Clerk (CEO) earning £250,000 sterling each year? David Cameron is now playing dangerous games with his increasingly gung ho rhetoric regarding Libya -None of our business – period. Prime Minister Cameron needs to make a start on sorting out the Town Halls and their Mafias, the Banks too, and make some serious inroads into a workable immigration policy. This Financial Crisis is a Tsunami. We have yet to experience the major big shocks yet to come. ( and they are coming fast) Once Oil reaches $175 to $200 dollars a barrel, we are in deep, deep, trouble with a second Banking Crisis almost guarranteed.

    Have you no vision at all Mr Cameron? Can you not see what is coming at us some 3 to 9 months down the line? A deeper destructive long term Recession. John, Your Government and your Party need to get real very quickly, before this angry Public really loses patience with the Lot of You at Westminster. We want real and serious legislation NOW at Westminster, not pussy footing games. The National Political mood is a simmering disquiet and once that moves to real anger and real pain, then watch out for the Truck Drivers and the Big Unions. This Country could become ungovernable in just a few short months, if no turning is made to this Political Titanic. You are all talking away and not taking the difficult decisions which will have to be made anyway- except that the longer you leave it, the more painful they will be to us all on the Streets of Britain. I truly believe that this is the last role of the dice for the Westminster Village games -It has gone beyond a joke. Why do you not send a few of our Blog Messages to Number Ten?

    Mr Redwood, you are an honourable and inteeligent man. It is really time that you and other MP’s starting telling this Coalition ( transparently via published articles and interviews) what you would do for us, right now. They are handing out umbrellas to save us all from getting a little wet, whilst we are all watching a 50ft wave coming directly at us. Even Mervyn King, the Bank of England Boss finally has “got it”

  28. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    The story goes that all red time at a large number of London traffic signals was increased by Livingstone. The official reason was that it was in response to an EU directive or code of practice. The real reason is that Livingstone hates cars. It might be worth your while checking his one out with Boris Johnson.

  29. Matt
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Your post seems contradictory. You complain about works being undertaken and that you can see nothing that is improving safety or saving money. I guess this is because you don’t understand the works you see. Improving central reserves will improve safety and assets such as traffic signals need replacing at the most cost effective time. It is often difficult explaining asset management to those with no technical background but it often is more cost effective to replace things before they fail.

    Finally you need to understand the demands of the public to continue to make those improvements you seem to object to.

    Reply: There is nothing contradictory about my post. I see many examples of waste and schemes which do not make life safer.

  30. BobE
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    John, Do you read any of these comments?. Do you just ignore these people expressing the things they see? Nothing seems to change. Why is that John, good pension, keep stum, play the game. Are you just a Cameron foot stool?

    Reply: If you tried reading my posts thoughtfully you would see that I listen a lot, read all the incoming comments, and say and vote as best I can in the Commons. It is not my fault that the electorate elected a pro EU big government Commons again and failed to elect a majority of Eurosceptic enthusiasts, nor is it in my power to change that.

  31. G. Tingey
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    ANDY WHY ARE YOU WASTING MONEY AND FUEL BY DRIVING into London?
    Ther is a half-hourly TRAIN service from Wokingham!

    And You have the hypocrisy to talk about waste!

    Reply: Because trains do not go at times of day when I travel, because I cannot take all the items I need with me on the train, because there is no train station within walking distance of my house, because the total journey by train and car takes longer than doing it all by car and because the car is cheaper.

    • alan jutson
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      G Tingey

      At least JR cannot leave documents on a train seat !!

      Remember the houses of Parliament has its own car park.

      It helps a lot with regard to convenience, security of car, and cost.

      If only !

      Sad that in the last Government period they were thinking of taxing Business provided car park spaces for employees.
      Not sure if this is still under consideration.

      Remember those times, One rule for them, another for the rest of us.

      Reply: I do not usually park at the Commons because to do so I have to pay a £10 Congestion Charge to get there.

      • rose
        Posted March 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Alan you are quite right to light on the one rule for them and one for the rest of us: in our city the Council House has a free carpark which the councillors and officers can use, usually driving in and out at off-peak times. So they never get to grips with our appalling traffic.

      • zorro
        Posted March 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        It’s very expensive and difficult to park in Central London, you must have a hidey hole to park your car! I would have thought that it would be cheaper to pay the congestion charge and park at Parliament.

        zorro

    • lifelogic
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Nor with the connections and all the rail station infrastructures and indirect routes taken into account is it any greener or less energy consuming to take the train.

      Also if you get delayed or your schedule changes you are far more flexible.

    • rose
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      “Because trains do not go at times of day when I travel, because I cannot take all the items I need with me on the train, because there is no train station within walking distance of my house, because the total journey by train and car takes longer than doing it all by car and because the car is cheaper.”

      These reasons for driving private motor cars everywhere you want to, are given not just by you but by the whole motoring fraternity. Collectively, you have abandoned public transport and thus reduced the cost of private motoring at the same time as increasing the cost of bus and train travel for the minority who still use them. Even now the cost of running a private car is less than it was in the seventies, when a lot of people still thought it unnecessary to have a car. Collectively, you have also removed the influential demand for good and flexible arrangements whereby you would be able as a fit and active man to travel on your own every day efficiently, without moving a huge, noisy hunk of metal, emitting poisonous fumes, around where people are living and walking, and where children used to play but now no longer can. If you were the only one doing it, it wouldn’t be a problem, but there are several tens of millions of you, and increasing every day. How many more tens of millions of private vehicles do you think can be sustained in the South of England? Messrs Brown and Balls seemed to want the expansion to go on for ever, but surely you and other conservatives must be more reflective, more responsible, and more conservationist? There cannot be continuous growth of road transport, any more than there can be continuous growth of population, or of building, in a tiny over-populated country like this. Eventually something must give and sanity return. Perhaps the rising cost of oil will now bring people gradually to their senses as they choose for economic reasons to reduce their excessive driving; they may then come to see the benefit of not being oppressed by the motor car.

      You may say your own car is clean and quiet, and you drive it safely, but the collective effect of everybody’s private motoring is disgustingly smelly and noisy, as well as extremely dangerous. The only way mothers now feel they can get their children safely to school and back is by joining the madness. So children grow up strapped into the backs of their mothers’ cars and then go straight to university strapped into the front of their own. They can no longer imagine any other way of gettting around. Did you drive everywhere when you were a student? I don’t think you would be so slim if you had been brought up in that unhealthy way, but that is how the nation has got. We used to look down on the Americans for being unable to walk, and having to have everything accessible by car. We felt so superior, and thought obesity and stupidity just an American problem, like their inferior schooling. How times change!

      reply: I walk for many journeys in London or take the tube for the longer ones. You just have to accept that for many of the long days I work there is no means of doing what I have to do than by car. On friday for example I needed to get from my home to my Wokingham office, then to another location in Wokingham, then back to my office at home, then to a meeting at Winnersh, then back home, then to dinner in Witney ending at 10.45 pm and then back home. How on earth could I do any of that by train? My home is five miles from Wokingham station, and 11 miles from Reading station. There are no trains to and from Witney at the times I needed on friday. That is quite normal for the journeys I need to do.

      • rose
        Posted March 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        If you hadn’t become dependent on your motor car in the first place, you wouldn’t have planned your day like that, and nor would any of the others who deem their many car journeys to and fro to be indispensible. Once a mod con is invented, it will be used more excessively than could ever have been imagined at its inception, no matter what the cost. Central heating is another example, and one on which I think you are more in sympathy with me. Personal telephones are another.

        • rose
          Posted March 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          PS But my main point is that collectively you motorists have removed the compelling demand for the flexible public transport which would otherwise have been supplied to fit your needs – even on a Friday. Now we are all stuck with the consequences.

      • lifelogic
        Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        “Even now the cost of running a private car is less than it was in the seventies”

        The fact that cars are often cheaper than public transport, despite the huge taxation on cars and very little on trains and buses show how very efficient cars often are.

        What is the point of a bus with driver at 2 in the morning when only two people want to go on that particular route?

        • Bazman
          Posted March 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

          The problem is we have inherited the cost of running the likes of you.

          • lifelogic
            Posted March 9, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

            Not sure what you mean I pay my own way for everything and pay far too much tax too.

            Cars are often for many journey cheaper, quicker, less fuel consuming, less congestion causing and more efficient than buses and public transport. It is just a fact of engineering and no amount of silly adverts claiming one red bus is greener than 57 cars will change the engineering facts. Any more than the EU insurance sex equality directive will make men live longer or drive differently.

        • rose
          Posted March 7, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          Lifelogic, what you say is logical, as ever, but is it reasonable to vroom past people’s bedroom windows at 2am? Some people, maybe not you, even think it normal to have the stereo blasting out as well, and to stop outside people’s windows to make telephone calls, leaving their engines running while they bawl out their private business in the small hours. I don’t like deafeningly loud and dirty buses crashing around almost empty and blocking the roads either, let alone at 2am, but this is what happens when the influential majority abandons public transport: the investment in small, flexible, and clean vehicles which run where and when needed, isn’t made.

          If the motoring majority would allow it, we could have little electric floats lifting people around towns, running so frequently that fit people wouldn’t want to drive alone in big congesting cars. We could have dolmuz type taxis in the country to help Mr R back home after his evening engagements. In cities, we could have quiet unthreatening trams, with bike lanes at the sides of roads instead of parked and double parked cars. And how do you feel about the rickshaws and Boris bikes in London, as another way of avoiding the unpleasantness of too many large cars dominating our lives in towns and cities? We could also have sensible regulations about the size of lorry or van allowed to stop at the side of the roads in towns, as is done in Japan.

          Have you been to Japan and seen how civilized city life can be for a huge population in a small group of islands, which has accepted the need to restrain itself? And noticed too how much leaner, fitter, and more alert they are? People can still drive their cars, but the responsibility and cost of parking them out of the way is theirs and the private garages’, not the council’s; and out of the way means right off the road, and not on the pavement either, so the balance of motorist versus pedestrian is fundamentally altered. Cars are then only another way of getting around, not the only way, and certainly not the cheapest and most convenient.

          • rose
            Posted March 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            PS sorry about typo – the Turkish word is dolmus, not dolmuz.

    • G. Tingey
      Posted March 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      CHEAPER?
      When you can claim legitimate travel to-and-from your constituency?

      There is a simple rule about driving in London.
      Unless it is essential – DON’T.

      Reply: I do not claim any travel costs. Even if I did I will still seek the cheapest way to keep taxpayer bills down.

  32. stred
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I recently drove from Exeter to East London with a very full car and decided to drive straight through, as the last time it took just over an hour at night. I arrived after a 2hours 30mins having driven 170 miles. The distance to destination was 20 miles. The last part of the journey took the same time. Following diversions, I had traveled an extra 30 miles and had crossed the Thames twice and visited Battersea, The City, Tower Bridge, Whitechapel and the estates of Dagenham.

    The biggest hold up was caused by the renewal of lighting along an Embankment underpass. This is already bright enough to give drivers a sun tan and uses enough electricity to power a small town. Do TFL have a committee for maximising disruption and thereby solve the problem by having no car traffic?

  33. simple soul
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    How can we take the government seriously on stopping wasteful public spending when it is not even prepared to cancel the coming census, whose absence would be unlamented? The census was missed for a decade in 1940-41 for very good reasons, but I doubt whether this gap in our statistics did much harm to anyone. I understand that the cost of collecting these unreliable data is of the order of £400 to £500 million. What a potential windfall we are mssing.

  34. Alte Fritz
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    This is precisely the sort of story which the government should exploit. Everyone will find that it strikes a chord; we can all tell our tale. So when local authorities talk of the compulsion to cut front line services, let them explain this in [insert town of your choice].

  35. Bernard Otway
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    To all of you who hate the car,Shut UP.
    In 1981 I arrived in Durban to start a new job I lived 5 minutes from work,the golf course and the beach,HEAVEN.You British are all mad even the car haters who use pubic sorry Public
    Transport the best thing the sandal wearing green car haters can do is work within no more than 5 miles of home,encourage everyone else to do so,and govt.should back this up with tax incentives to both workers and employers to encourage this,it also means a much better QUALITY of life if your travelling time is cut to the minimum plus costs less.And by the way I am born and bred here but am lucky enough to have lived in Australia and South Africa for 31 years so I look at life totally differently now and quite frankly think you are all
    in need of a good talking to,you moan like mad about the RAIN,well I lived in Calvinia S.Africa and in my 548 days there it rained on 5 days only, the people there would give their eye teeth for only half our rain,which by the way would bring IMMENSE prosperity
    turning a semi desert into a garden of eden.

  36. Bernard Otway
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I commented on J leslie Smith’s comment yesterday,very strongly worded,John WHY
    have you censored my strong words,they only mirror what he says which you have allowed

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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