Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Streets Of Shame, and Roads of Ruin

PICKWICK WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGISE for the confusion caused by his putting a 'trailer' picture on our cousin Facebook page, Wisbech…Oh Dear. The picture showed two provocatively dressed ladies trying to drum up business at the kerbside. If this led web surfers into thinking that tonight's blog update was about vice and illicit sex on the streets of PE13, then it has to be said that the ploy was absolutely intentional, and was a cheap and shabby trick to try and drum up more traffic. Just for the record, here's the picture again, and no, it wasn't taken in Wisbech. It just demonstrates the depths to which Pickwick is prepared to sink to get more readers.
BUT NO! Tonight we look at the appalling state of some of the roads in  Wisbech. Pot - holes that will rip your tyres off. Yawning chasms that will have you queueing round the block at Kwik-Fit to have your suspension replaced. Crevasses that will send your wheel covers cartwheeling off into the bushes. Why are the roads in such a dire state? Well, I suppose it's because there is no money to repair them. No money?, you say. Well, the last time I checked on what I pay to the government for the privilege of swerving round on these hazardous tracks humorously called roads, it looked like this. Every time I put fuel in the car, most of the money goes to the government. Each year I pay nearly £200 in tax for a little piece of embossed paper which is sellotaped inside my windscreen. I realise that central government is not responsible for maintaining roads, but I believe that the government of the day writes a cheque to local authorities so that they can keep roads safe and in good repair.

I REALISE that the awful roads of Wisbech are not unique in the UK. But they are unique to me, as I live here, and expect to be supported by local authority personnel and politicians whose wages I contribute to. Here follows a little photo-essay on some of the choicer spots in this fair borough. All the pics were taken when I was on a bike-ride. And don't get me started on what some of these chasms do to cycles and cyclists. Yes, I ride on the pavement whenever possible, much to the disgust of pedestrians, but that's an argument for another day. 

A SECTION OF HIGHWAY which we can proudly call put up for comparison with anything in the Third World, is a short stretch, no more than 200 yards, between the Town Bridge and the end of Old Market. This is getting rapidly worse, while traffic can no longer go beside the river due to the flood defence work.


SOUTH BRINK AND CROMWELL ROAD have been excavated more times than The Valley Of The Kings, and there is no sign that the Highway Engineering Consultants are becoming any more adept at their trade. I am old enough to remember Steamrollers, and their diesel successors. Road repairs didn't simply consist of dumping a bit of tarmac into a hole, slapping it with the back of a shovel, and then popping off for a McDonald's somewhere. Roads used to be levelled, graded, rolled, and cambered properly. But that was then.


PART OF THE PROBLEM IS THE ENDLESS UNCO-ORDINATED AND RANDOM TRENCHES driven across the highway by a motley collection of 'Service Providers', including Telecoms, Power, Drainage, and Water, No-one seems to talk to anyone else. There is no-one with an overview. No-one seems to plan, no-one seems to be able to pull projects together. The result is the haphazard mess of humps, ditches and trenches which crop up in the most unlikely places.


 ONE OF THE GAPS IN MY EDUCATION was that I was never privileged to quaff a pint of foaming ale in that most curious of Wisbech watering holes, The Flower Pot. Friends told me it had a lurid reputation, but at least no-one had met their death by stabbing or violent assault within its walls, unlike several other venues of choice in PE13. Currently, the road outside it leave much to be desired.


MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE is this completely unexplained, unexplainable and unfillable crater at the top of a quiet, secluded suburban street. maybe the street name is something to do with it…? A stray cluster bomb from a passing V-Bomber, perhaps…?

BEFORE ANYONE CHIPS IN TO SUGGEST that we only have to visit the Cambs County Council Highways website and report the fault…I have been there, done that…..and got the meaningless brush-off. I reported the traffic chaos caused by the mismatched signage and road markings as drivers approach Freedom Bridge roundabout from Churchill Road. Within 48 hours, the report was annotated online as 'Case Closed', despite nothing whatsoever having been done to resolve the issue. So please, please, pretty please DO NOT point me in that direction.