February 4, 2018

As the UK prepares to enter the second of two decades of austerity planned as penance for our role in enabling the greedy bankers who brought the global financial system to its knees in the Noughties, we Britons need to ask ourselves some tough questions.

Questions like: can we afford universal healthcare, can afford the so-called welfare state, can we afford the heating bill?

Another such question is: can we afford roads? We Britons like our roads. Indeed, we depend on them to get around in our cars, and on our bikes – other things for which we feel great fondness.

But – whisper it softly – there’s a problem with roads: as soon as you build them, they start going to pot – or, more specifically, to pot-holes.

And fixing those potholes costs money – money cash-strapped local authorities can ill afford to splurge on lads in pickups ‘chucking and rolling’ asphalt patches all over the place.

Now, according to RACY, the so-called fifth emergency service, the potholes situation is getting completely OOC. RACY reckon they attended 11% more pothole-related breakdowns in the final quarter of last year than in the corresponding period of 2016.

With plenty more winter weather still to come (i.e. what pothole experts term ‘the wrong kind of weather’), there are fears that many of our roads are approaching a tipping point, the point at which potholes open up faster than we can ever hope to fill them in.

The time may therefore be approaching when local authorities find they have no alternative but to give up on the worst affected roads and redesignate them as ‘tracks’ or ‘bridal ways’ or something like that. Maybe roads are just one more twentieth century luxury – like retirement, holiday pay, or health and safety – that we can’t afford in Brave New Britain.

RACY chief engineer David Busily, no fan of commas, says “drivers contribute around £40bn of motoring based taxation a year and many will feel that they are having to endure roads that are substandard and therefore getting poor value for money.”

Rather than having their money spent on Ethiopian Spice Girls or duck houses or whatever, motorists have every right to see those taxes spent on road building, road maintenance and road stuff generally.

But ring-fencing may not be the solution, some commentators have warned, and could indeed create problems of its own – especially if drivers are forced to swerve into the path of oncoming traffic whilst avoiding unexpected ring fences in their path.

Sorry!


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