The local government straight jacket will make roads worse

At the moment, snow, ice and generally dreadful weather are causing havoc across the country. For many people there is a feeling of "What are we paying our council tax for when our roads are not even gritted ?"

Of course, local councils cannot be expected to keep our roads open in the very worst of weather conditions, but the straight jacket the government are forcing on to council from next year, with deep cuts in budgets will only make thing worse.

Philip Hammond MP, the Transport Minister, was suggesting this morning that government, industry and councils might need to consider investing in equipment and infrastructure to ensure that we are better able to cope with bad snow and ice in the future. But how does he think councils will pay for this with a reduced budget ?

There is an argument that people will tolerate council tax rises if they can see the benefits from it. But even that is not an option with council tax levels frozen (poor choice of word) for the next two years.

So we can expect more of the same in future as councils are effectively forbidden from investing in new technology or forced to cut social services or other vital areas in order to get our roads cleared.

The one thing the government does have some credit for is the way they are dealing with ridiculous Labour attacks on them. The government inherited the mess from Labour and the roads were certainly just as bad last year in the bad weather under a Labour government.


Bob Piper said...

But last year the opposition blamed Labour for running low on salt and grit in February after almost three months of bad weather!!! Now they are blaming everyone but themselves after a week!!!

And they are both wrong. It's weather, get used to it!

Alan said...

Norfolk is a very agricultural county. Why not go back to paying farmers a retainer for clearing roads? Their equipment is best suited, and tractor drivers know how to operate it (rather than a council driver who is not used to such specialist vehicles).

Autonomous Mind said...

I think what your post misses is the current local government expenditure on things government has no business being involved in.

Look at the spending figures on grants given to special interest groups for example. Another is the spending on health related issues that should be coming from the NHS budget.

Councils have the scope to cut a lot of non essential expenditure but officers oppose this because it reduces their influence and sense of importance. Instead the things that go are basic services that should be delivered, such as salt spreading and gritting pavements.

English Pensioner said...

A member of my county council told me that they hadn't made any significant investment in snow clearing equipment for quite a few years simply because all the experts suggested that global warming was on the increase (remember the Professor who announced a few years ago that none of the children born in England from then on would ever see snow in their gardens).
As my councillor friend remarked, "Can you imagine what our electorate would think if we put a significant sum in our budget for snow clearance equipment, especially in our public consultations and with the large numbers of people who believe every word of the Warmists. Any local politician would be mad to suggest such a thing - hence very little modern equipment"
For once I believe his view point is perfectly valid. I'm just surprised it hasn't been more widely used when, except for a few sceptics, all the experts have been proclaiming that cold winters are a thing of the past. So organisations, whether Councils, Railways or Airports can hardly be blamed for taking expert advice.

Alan said...

@English Pensioner

Thats very interestings. It almost exactly mirrors what happened to the economy. After a decade of being told "no more boom and bust", people started to take larger and larger risks with companies and individuals borrowing far more than prudent, on the basis that interest rates would stay forever low, and assets (e.g. house prices) would forever rise.

....and then BANG.

Anonymous said...

The problem with all those who argue that global warming is not happening "because it's so cold" ignore the fact that a mahor consequence of global warming is climate change, a movement in the jetstream, and much colder weather for us in the winter, offset against a ridiculously warm June, which has certainly been true of four of the last five years.

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