Derbyshire is, or rather, was, one of the best counties in Britain for riding a motorcycle or even a bicycle. (Luckily for folk I chose a motored bike as my bum in lycra would require a tanker full of brain bleach, I can promise).
Sadly, due to years of central government cuts to local authorities many have had to prioritise the services they offer the communities. However, Derbyshire as with so many others it seems to me is happy to waste money if it benefits the councillors, ruling party or senior executives but will not invest in ensuring roads are safe.
Now our roads are often in disrepair due to wear and tear, but also to what I fear is the corrupt lapse in common sense when it comes to building upon our beautiful green belt land and the criminal destruction of our open spaces.
I been led to believe that there is more than a little building on protected sites, knocking down buildings that were listed and destroying protected hedgerows all seemingly victims of instantaneous combustion, with often no formal police or fire investigation.
There also is the building of residential houses, new homes for families on horrifically and dangerously contaminated land throughout the county. The building on known flood plains is commonplace.
It seems I am digressing, however the roller coaster of house building has a major impact upon the roads, partly due to more traffic, increase on heavy vehicles using roads not designed for their weight, and the fact that local infrastructure is not designed to cope so all our roads are being dug up (some daily) by utility companies either installing or shoring up existing cables, pipes and sewers.
Now the problem it seems to my dulled mind, is that local councillors are I believe often lied to by council officers and developers. They believe they are helping their communities grow but not aware of the corruption behind it. The housing is also despite promises made and even contractual obligation upon developers are not affordable to the majority of local residents, which destroys communities or rather what now remains of them.
Taking all this into account, maybe the developers and privately owned utility companies will pay for road repairs and even development …erm likely nope, the only roads they may fund are the avenues their houses sit upon.
What does Derbyshire County Council do to control this? Well they absolve themselves stating that district councils are responsible for planning (most District Councillors are members of the three main parties so not truly independent of county decision making and vice versa). They also ensure the police never record accidents as due to road surface or conditions (making sure there is not even a tick box to record this), they blame accidents on speed and dangerous driving. With little evidence to support this, invest in failed road safety initiatives through the police, concentating police resources on the roads rather than often more serious crimes (measuring number plates and the like).
The latest initiatives are speed reduction, no clear evidence for the need, little or no public cinsultation. And until challenged no real indication the limits have changed.
So for all us Derbyshire residents, let’s be proud of our councils, of their erm profess…unprofessional responses to the risks.
Every day I see central government taking the mickey in regard to our safety, our rights and putting us all at risk through what I can only accept is at best disregard for us, at worse contempt in the face of their greed, but it seems the rot goes far deeper, all the way to our own doorsteps.
How can we allow this to continue?