A Nightmare Journey

If there is one thing worse than the pain of air travel it is the pain of queuing on a motorway, and how many times have you said to yourself “well it can only get better” for it then to become worse. So the objective was to get from Okehampton, Devon to St Neots as quickly and safely as possible – I had been on holiday wiith my son, his daughter and her brother.

We joined the A30 at noon with 20 miles to go to the M5, it was misty and drizzling. After about 10 miles we joined a queue causing us to start looking for alternative routes – I quite fancied the A303, but thank goodness we didn’t go that way as it was closed for 4 hours. So the M5 it was and as soon as we got onto it the traffic ground to a halt. The next 3 hours were a mile of crawling then two miles of normal speed – we only covered 60 miles in this time. The traffic news advised that the queues were beyond Bristol and also the M42 was at a standstill between the M40 and the M6.

Enough was enough, we turned off and headed deep into Somerset. The speed increased but there were many towns en route however we finally got to the M4 before Swindon and the traffic was moving at a good lick. The next choice was either taking the A34 via Oxford or to stay on the M4 and head for the M25 where we new there were queues but hopefully they would be gone by the time we arrived ……… no they weren’t and in fact had spread back onto the M4. However by the time we reached Watford, some 5 junctions later, traffic was moving again but a pit stop was required at South Mimms.

Until this point my old Merc – Mavis – had coped well with the conditions although was running hot in the queues. For some reason when we got going again the temperature just continued to rise. Half a mile from reaching the kid’s home she gave up the ghost spewing her blood everywhere. The RAC were called and about 75 minutes later we were all loaded onto a flatbed and heading home. That should have been the end of the sorry story but, of coure the A14 was closed for resurfacing so a detour through Cambridge and around Newmarket was in order – the final straw.

Twelve and a half hours and 340 miles after starting out we were finally home – we could have got back from America quicker! If our population continues to increase at the rate it is our roads are going to fail us, if they haven’t already.

Picture - Merc

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New Era at Babergh District Council

I guess it (a Tory majority) had to happen at some point, just a surprise that in Babergh it took as long as it did – 40 years or so. Working in a ‘hung’ council had its positive and negative points but all of those are preferable to being on the back benches. Time will tell whether a Tory administration is good for Babergh but if the experiences at County are anything to go by then hold on to your hat it could be a bumpy ride.

Leader Jennie Jenkins assured those councillors not in the administration (8 Independants, 3 LibDems and 1 Labour) that their views were important and would be sought out, then proceeded to fill all of the policy panels with Tories.  Talk is cheap!

A message that it would seem fails to reach Tories, both in the District and County, is that their residents would prefer to retain the fabric of their community rather than slavishly follow a zero tax increase and the resulting cuts necessary to balance the budget. Just look around you, in the winter the roads look like a rolling rubbish tip with the lack of greenery exposing huge amounts of litter. Then the growth comes in and covers it up, but this creates blind spots at every rural junction.

Now I agree that you shouldn’t have staff levels that are geared to peaks but if you have a rolling peak throughout the year then a bit of flexibility within the workforce could eliminate this perennial problem, that and not trimming contracts so that rubbish is only collected upto 2 metres from the curb when we can all see it up to and including the hedgerow.

Beginning to sound like a grumpy old man so I had better stop, but is it wrong to take a pride in our wonderful county?

Catch Up Posts – Old London Road Lighting

Since the SCC Highways Management team have moved in with Kier in Phoenix House it seems that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

In Endeavour House the Highways Network Improvement team are desperately trying to find a good enough reason to replace the ‘Beagle Roundabout’ with traffic lights at a cost of £125,000.  Supposedly this will reduce the chance of accidents – though there have only been a handful of minor ones in the last 5 years – and improve the flow of traffic along the A1071 for the couple of rush hours.   So what is wrong with this hypothesis?  At rush hour the build up of traffic will only be eased by sorting out the junction with Hadleigh Road through a left filter and changing the phasing of the lights at the Holiday Inn which do not let enough vehicles out from the A1071.  Then there is the future proposed development behind the Holiday Inn – shouldn’t the exits from this site be built into any solution, especially as there could be some 300 houses and 70 businesses on the site.

On the other hand the Highways Management team in Phoenix House want to take down and not replace street lights on a stretch of the old London Road in Washbrook.  This will pitch into darkness a junction where there has been 2 cyclists killed in the last couple of years and at least 2 vehicles (one an ambulance!) have been caught going the wrong way up the dual carriageway.  The schoolchildren have to cross this road to get to their bus, the residents have to cross it to get to the community hall.  There is a hotel with function suite and a number of businesses in the area.  There is a school and a garage.  Ah but the road isn’t used any more they say – try saying that to the residents when there is a build up of traffic on the A12.

So whilst the right hand wants to waste money on a flawed scheme the left hand can’t find any to retain a semblance of safety.

But what are your views on:

a) replacing the roundabout at The Beagle with traffic lights;

b) removing the street lights on the old London Road from the Cameo Hotel to the Tesco underpass?