You really have to question the competence of the public sector on a day like today.
I took my wife to the railway station at 07.00 this morning and found one of the main East-West arterial routes through the town closed. The same stretch of road, Key Street/College Street on the Waterfront gyratory, was closed yesterday due to the wind blowing some fencing down and a lamp post during Monday morning. Almost 24 hours later, the same stretch of road was still closed.
Traffic is being taken down half the Waterfront-side gyratory heading west and then is swiftly diverted north up on to Star lane and through Waterworks Street and Bond Street, taking all East-West bound traffic through the north side of the town centre along Crown Street. As would be expected, this has caused gridlock for traffic coming from the East of Ipswich.
Ok, I understand if a lamp post comes down, it needs to be removed. But how long does it take to do this? I have also received reports the police believe – they don’t know – there is structural damage to one of the buildings adjacent to the road. At the time of writing Ipswich Borough Council’s Building Control team are yet to assess if the building is safe and Ipswich can be re-opened for business.
This question needs a serious answer from Borough Council chief Russell Williams: why weren’t your Building Control team on-site 24 hours ago? Why haven’t they made their assessment yet? Can they not work overnight on some measurements?
It is not acceptable for a bit of wind to bring Suffolk’s county town to a halt. It is regrettable four people died in the storm yesterday across a population of 66 million but we cannot use the weather as an excuse for the public sector to ramp down their work even further than they do when we have calm conditions. Britain’s climate is warm, wet and WINDY! We should be better prepared to respond to our own climate, experienced in these islands for millennia.
In London over the summer, a skyscraper was melting cars and anything else that stood under it’s gaze because the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building in central London was magnifying sunlight on to the road and pavement below. What did the City of London authorities do? Did they close the road? Err, no! They ordered the building owner to put up some material on the windows causing the reflection pronto, which was duly done with no disruption to Londoners, no road closures, nothing. We just pitied the poor man who came back to find his BMW melted.
Why in the provinces do we have to put up with a ‘third-world’ standard of public service? Perhaps, because the majority of people don’t moan like ambitious, confident Londoners would. Either way, it’s not acceptable for Health and Safety to be used as an excuse for the public sector to be even more inefficient than they usually are, which takes some doing!
Things then got worse once I was finally able to drop my wife off at the railway station. Greater Anglia and Network Rail – the paragons of railway incompetents – found 24 hours was also not enough time to lift a few branches off the line and fix some signalling and so Suffolk’s county town still does not have a railway service to London, with all trains suspended to Liverpool Street. Instead, my wife, who pays Greater Anglia £6,000 a year to travel in worse conditions than cattle, had to queue for a bus to Manningtree then a ‘bus on rails’ to Colchester before finally being able to take an inter-city service to the capital. It took her three hours to get to work! This is frankly completely unacceptable and again would seem to be incompetence and inefficiency on behalf of the publicly owned Network Rail, heavily in hoc to the Unions who can’t wait to find an excuse to down tools (look at Grangemouth!) and Greater Anglia who, like the big six energy firms, can do what they like because where else has the hard-pressed commuter got to go?
What is wrong then? Is it all down to ill-judged health and safety concerns? Is it because we have lost our stoicism as a nation which saw us win two world wars? Is it because we have such an imbalanced economy that our infrastructure can’t cope with London being the only place to actually make a decent wage, bar a few exceptions? Or is it just public sector incompetence? I’d love to hear your views in the comments.
October 29, 2013 at 12:44 pm
Gavin, to ascertain if it is structurally safe, they’ve got to get up there first. http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/polopoly_fs/1381665_549986808426715_2138516331_n_1_2936484!image/927181684.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_490/927181684.jpg
October 30, 2013 at 3:25 am
Unless they hurry up with it, you’re going to love tomorrow’s morning commute. As I went into the cinema last night they were busy closing Grafton Way, outside the Royal Mail sorting office, seemingly for emergency water main repairs. As I came out of the cinema at 2am this morning, they were still digging.
I think you are a little unfair on SCC about the road closure, there are clearly safety concerns once the polystyrene cladding of the building starts to fall off. Where I do think there is an answer to be demanded is in the councillors who gave planning permission for a building made of styrofoam.
I was going to say you are being a bit harsh on Greater Anglia, as well. But frankly nothing annoyed me more than watching the reporter on Sky News Sunrise yesterday morning keep parroting that rail services were back to normal for the whole of the country, except for those in and out of Liverpool Street. Yet again Network Rail failed to clear the GEML in any sort of timely fashion, whilst ensuring other routes were flowing freely.
I do know there were a number of trees down in the Manningtree area, so it could be argued that they had a lot to deal with (and lets face it, there are limited numbers of tree surgeons in the country, and most of those are dealing with electricity services, which are a higher priority than mass transit). But I don’t believe they were any worse off than other areas of the South East, which arguably were hit worse, but got things up and running more quickly.