Friday, August 10, 2007

A tale of two highway departments

There was an interesting article in the newspaper today about a little old lady who tends a public flowerbed. For years she spent time, money and effort in an attempt to make her village look more attractive to visitors. So much so that she was even encouraged by her local council and praised by residents. However the highway department now insist that she puts up three road signs, has two lookouts to watch for danger and also wears a bright yellow fluorescent safety jacket whilst tending the village flower garden. The highway authority concerned is obviously taking their responsibility for 'elf and safety' extremely seriously. One could even argue too seriously.

On the other hand Cheshire County Council redesigned a roadway in the vicinity of my property during 2001. (without the proper plans, planning approval or safety audit) Although the original plans for the class 3A distributor road shows a footpath on both sides of the road, the highway authority concerned decided in 2001 (in order to save themselves money) to remove the footpath on one side of the road altogether. This would force pedestrians to leave the relative safety of the footway and continue their journey by walking along the edge of the road.

If that's not bad enough the planned footway is actually on the bend of the road. A class 3A local distributor road is not even a quiet village or estate road, it is in fact only just below classified standard. In any event it's a damn sight more dangerous walking in the road than working in a large village flower garden so will Cheshire County Council put up road signs, post lookouts and offer pedestrians the use of a bright yellow fluorescent safety jackets? I doubt it. Unlike the highway authority above they appear more interested in saving money than saving peoples lives. However, this is the County Council who wasted money on roadwork signs written in Polish so anything is possible.

I wonder what they (and the Ombudsman) will do when someone is badly injured or killed? No doubt they will blame everybody but themselves.

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