Fringe Box



The Dragon Says: “The Wheels of Local Government Turn Very Slowly” – Don’t We Know It!

Published on: 24 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 24 Mar, 2013

Dragon Roar Still 470“The wheels of local government turn very slowly,” said Cllr David Goodwin, the other day, to a resident asking why it was taking so long to paint some lines on his road and introduce controlled parking.

The road in question did not used to have a major parking problem five or so years ago but things changed. Police officers were redeployed to Millmead offices to be co-located with the council and make joined up working easier. A sensible move, all seemed to agree.

An unforeseen consequence was that, with no extra parking allocated or even available, police officers joined some  council officers in looking for places to legally park their cars whilst at work.

They found Riverside Gardens, which is a bit too far from town to be used for most shoppers but is quite close to Millmead, so they parked there. They have done nothing illegal: the road is adopted, not private, and there are no yellow lines or other parking restrictions.

The residents, understandably annoyed to find that their road had become a free car park, asked for something to be done. That was almost 18 months ago but they have been told that it might be a further two years before a restrictions are put in place.

The High Street Setts being laid in 1868

The High Street Setts being laid in 1868

Meanwhile, after years of complaints, Surrey County Council (SCC), who are responsible for our highways, has decided that there is indeed a problem with the patchy maintenance of the High Street ‘cobbles’, as they call them, so they are going to take three months to analyse the problem and produce a few more trees worth of paper. All at taxpayers expense.

Three months of analysis? Obtaining world peace or fixing our economy might need some lengthy analysis but repairing the High Street really shouldn’t.

The granite setts on the High Street have been there a long time, since 1868 in fact. The requirement for their maintenance should not have been a surprise. Necessary funding should have been included in the budget.

And whoever is responsible,  for ensuring the quality of repairs to inevitable work on services that run under the High Street should be ashamed, whether it is the County Council or contractors May Gurney. As Cllr James Palmer rightly said, laying black top (Tarmac) down amongst the granite setts is simply “unacceptable”. So why was it accepted or allowed?

The wheels of local government might turn slow… perhaps it is time for someone to put their foot on the accelerator

Checking a repair has been carried out to a proper standard should be bread and butter work to those responsible in May Gurney and SCC. We should not need a lengthy analysis, we just need some leadership, some urgency and some action.

The wheels of local government might turn slow but perhaps it is time for someone to put their foot on the accelerator.  It is not the fault of David Goodwin or any individual councillor or council officer, slowness and costly delay are now the norm, it has become the culture in which they operate.

But the defence that is just ‘the way it is’ should never be accepted without question. In this country we used to laugh at mañana cultures elsewhere. Now if something was done as quick as tomorrow it would be regarded as reckless even miraculous.

During the Second World War it is well known that Churchill, when frustrated with delays and bureaucracy, would write on memos ‘Action this day!’. Most of us would now settle for ‘Action this year’.

Ironically the huge power of electronic communications and IT, the introduction of which is a revolution we are still living through, has only increased our speed of communication and the amount of it, not action. Just the reverse. We now write thousands of words on a subject where perhaps before a verbal instruction would have sufficed. I could go on but, hopefully, I have made my point so I would only be adding to the problem.

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