Of Pot Holes & Other Holes... By David Hollister

04/10/2010

Last month I wrote about the Gas Board’s attempts to bring Swanage Carnival to a standstill with their ‘temporary’ traffic lights opposite St. Michaels Garage. Alas that was just a taste of things to come. Traffic lights were erected right opposite Avenue Garage, just close to the railway bridge, for approximately a week during which time not only did my good friend Steve Poultney suffer a significant impact to his petrol sales but was also roundly abused by the Transco workforce when he dared to complain and – on one occasion – to stop them actually diverting traffic across his forecourt. How long does it take to replace a gas pipe, for heavens’ sake.

And then the killer blow itself. Some anonymous ‘numpty’ dug a hole right at the narrowest part of the hill that climbs up into Corfe Castle. I say ‘anonymous’ because none of the public utilities had the decency to even put up a sign claiming responsibility. Whatever it was, the barriers round the hole were just enough to prevent 2-way traffic and with no lights, it was ‘catch as catch can’. Nico came across to Harmans Cross Fete on Bank Holiday Monday; it took her 45 minutes to get from Stoborough to Corfe Castle. Whilst sitting quietly fuming in her car, she could not help but notice a  significant number of cars ‘giving up’ and u-turning out of the queue.

As organiser of Harmans Cross Fete, I reckon that it probably cost us £500 in lost revenue. What it must have cost the rest of Swanage in lost revenue is incalculable. All because some selfish and stupid idiot could not be troubled to finish the job he’d started, and just abandoned his ‘hole’ over Bank Holiday weekend. It’s filled in now. Hopefully someone found out who dug it and buried the bugger.

But it’s time that we – the travelling public, both on business and for pleasure, took a stand against being treated in this way by the holediggers. It’s time that we demanded that a hole once started should be finished without pause for tea-breaks or indeed sleep. Especially in the summer. They are bringing the wheels of commerce to a grinding halt and in these recessionary days, every penny counts. Not to mention delays to ambulances, police cars, fire engines and hearses. And I’m told (at the time of writing) that Wessex Water are about to close Sandford for road works …………

So again I say – write to your MP whoever he or she may be (depending where you live). Write to Transco, to Wessex Water, and other utilities. Bombard them with letters requiring works to be completed using night shifts and spotlights if necessary, and maybe, just maybe, if enough people write in they may be able to stop them from wreaking havoc again next season. I am told that every so often the Highways Department have a ‘cull’ of event posters placed on the roadside, apparently illegally. Then if you go to try and recover your snatched sign or poster they try to fine you. Searched the DCC website but can find no mention of such signs being illegal.

I am told that every so often the BT area surveyor has a ‘cull’ of posters affixed to telegraph poles and then tries to fine the offenders £120 per poster. I searched the BT website but can find no mention of such a fine being imposed. I can, however, totally understand that a poster or placard might be in the way of engineers doing maintenance, and that the screws and staples left behind might be a danger to engineers climbing the poles (ouch!) so I will personally be looking for other poster sites next year.

If anyone out there knows the actual section of the law which prevents posters being displayed on poles or the roadside I’d love to hear about it. Especially the Highways Department or BT. Because fining someone – or confiscating their posters - for an offence that appears to be a secret is not on. But – event organisers, pubs, businesses etc – you have been warned.

I always try to remove all our signage within 24 hours of the event. It’s those people who leave them up for days and weeks after their events that are spoiling it for the rest of us.

Here’s an idea for some Highways Department signs:

DANGER – UNFILLED POTHOLE or perhaps DANGER – PUDDLE CAUSED BY POOR ROAD MAINTENANCE.

David Hollister

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