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Roadworks - It's That Time Of Year

Blog Date - 26 February 2018

Here in good 'ole Blighty our financial year starts and ends in April. Tax is calculated from this date, most businesses work to this date and so do governmental bodies. But how does this affect a scruffy oik on a motorcycle trying to avoid frost bite and hypothermia?

Road Works.

Anyone who chooses to endure driving or riding from around mid February will notice the sudden and oft unexpected arrival of multiple road works. That country lane you've joyfully travelled this winter is now closed and you must attempt to follow the terribly signposted diversion through a major unfamiliar conurbation. The busy but flowing main road is now snarled up with the appearance of traffic lights around a collection of barriers. It seems like along with the impending arrival of little lambs and flopsy bunnies the back end of winter also hails the spawning of trenches and diggers.

3 signs showing road closed, diversion and access to businesses only
Spring can't be far away now these have appeared.

This is all due to the end of the fiscal year. A careful council has been spending it's budget these last 10 months and now the next trickle of cash is on the horizon. Woe-betide ANY section that has ANY money left! If housing has money left over then they obviously had too much last year. If social services plan to keep a little behind for a big project next year then they risk having next year's budget cut. And if the roads people have even a penny in the pot they too will be deemed as over-funded.

So now is the time to spend spend spend! Allocate money to a thousand different works, put up temporary lights and barriers and ensure a long line of cones are clearly visible. Of course there are not enough workers to cover every job so many of them will remain un-manned and incomplete for weeks and months. It matters not, the money has been allocated and the work has been started. Phew!

Sharon and Rob look back at the camera in traffic on a busy road
Even the bikers are happy stuck in traffic!

Everyone is happy, the money, although not spent is at least allocated and everyone can go cap-in-hand to the money givers, begging "please sir, can we have some more?"

Except for the motorist who after queueing for 15 minutes will wonder why there's only one chap leaning on a shovel and not a team of efficient road workers swiftly completing the inconvenient repairs. I, well, I too am of course frustrated by the hassle but then I also understand what is at play.

Why don't the people that plan these things plan them better? The roadworks should be spread out over the year surely? Yes of course. But. Does everything you plan go to plan? Do you never need some emergency cash? Do you not have unexpected costs and delays in your life and at work? The planners need to keep a little in reserve. I understand why the roadworks pop up at this time every year. I don't like it, but I understand.

An empty tarmac lane winds across the hills of North Yorkshire
If only every road was like this....

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Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
You're lucky if it's actually the council.

Birmingham City Council has a PFI type contract with Amey. By doing this our elected representatives have abdicated all responsibility over what is done and when. So money which could be more usefully used for schools, care homes etc is irretrievably committed to a bunch of rip-off shysters who:

a) do totally unnecessary work to "justify" the vast sums they are paid;

b) when they do actually repair a road it's in just as bad a state a few years later so needs doing again. A nice little earner.....

So Ren, instead of dreaming up schemes to become a millionaire tomorrow, this is how to do it. Create 2 companies. One (domiciled in the Bahamas or similar) borrows millions of pounds at trivial interest rates. It then lends those millions at a much higher rate to the other one which bids for public contracts. It follows that in order to make a profit it has to charge well over cost price in order to service the loan. But in a "competitive" tendering world they're all at it so they all quote similar sums.

Company 2 will make little or no profit as that's all going back to company 1 (or paid out in dividends), therefore pays virtually no corporation tax. Company 1 pays no tax anywhere.

And so it goes on. If everything goes pear shaped then just let the second company go bankrupt. Of course any assets will go to company number 1 as the loans will be secured. And the taxpayer will pick up redundancy payments, pensions shortfalls etc.

See Carillion and others.
26/2//2018 2:36:58 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ooooooh politics. Well we can't beat 'em so we'd best join 'em. We'll start up Ian 'n Ren's dodgy roadworks PLC. The second company well be called Ren 'n Ian's dodgy roadworks incorporated. I've had enough of this weather so I'm off to run the Barbados offshore operation while Ian, you can handle the UK side.

We'll skip out the roadworks bit altogether. We'll just get contracts to build a massive new superhighway from Birmingham, via Bolton and on to Ireland via the Isle Of Man. We'll take a 2.5 billion pound down payment and a few million in bribes then call it quits and do a runner. Sorted.

If it all pans out I'll but Sharon a brew.
27/2//2018 2:43:27 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Actually, we can beat them but first we have to think for ourselves and not be bamboozled by lies.....
28/2//2018 10:15:16 AM UTC
Christopher said :-
Ooooh....Road works....Don't we just love them eh!!. I would like to think (wishfully, perhaps!) That over the border there in England you have a more, erm, 'common sense' approach....

Here in Wales its 'roadworks hell' 12 months of the year. most ( if not all)by private 'contractors', who (of course) have to 'create' these 'works' to justify their existence....and line the pockets of their shareholders via 'jobs for the boys'. How many of these 'works' are actually justified i wonder?. There are 'teams' here, that go around various area's starting at point A, get to point B, then return to the start, and dig up the road two feet away...get to point B again....on and on it goes!!

The two current culprits are good old 'B.T' and 'Welsh Water' Been going on for years....err...and years!

Then there is the Welsh Assembly Government of course,who via the 'Trunk Road Agency' here, erect 'temporary (permanent!)traffic lights' on (for a recent example) the A483 North of Llandovery in July 2012,(due to subsidence), these were in place until September 2017!!, over five years. A 'freedom of information' request (by myself) revealed that up to June 2016 (with 15 months still to go) they had cost (to maintain/daily checks) £299.912!!!. Incidentally, By the time these had been (finally) removed ('Hip Hip Hooray'), Yet another set had been erected, (Dec 2016), a mile or so further on!! (costing around £2350 per month to maintain!!) and another 3-7 years then eh! All 'Temporary lights' on these main traffic arteries are in place generally from 3 to 7years! Frankly unacceptable, in terms of delays and costings. The whole 'system' stinks, and is indicative of the U.K infrastructure (plus Government's)as a whole, i.e 'broken', 'corrupt' and a 'scam'. 'Lord help us; springs to mind.
2/3//2018 5:42:55 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I have heard it suggested, purely hearsay, but rather than fit expensive speed bumps councils just let the potholes do the same job!

Probably not true, councils can be sued for pothole damage.

Around Sharon's end it's speed bump crazy. The conspiracy theorists believe this is to ensure the lower orders can't own flash sports cars ensuring they don't go getting ideas above their station.
4/3//2018 7:52:59 AM UTC

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