Tuesday, June 08, 2010

How to Waste Taxpayer’s Money

I have been waiting for this.

About 4 or 5 years ago we had Transport for London up here in Barkingside with funding to improve bus flows through our High Street. The Consultants were hired, a consultation took place, we told them what they needed to know and they ignored it. Most of the work was completed fairly quickly, which is not how bus flows can be described once the contractors had done their bit. But there was one part of the scheme that got delayed – the traffic lighted junction of the High Street with Fremantle Road. The plan here was to widen Fremantle Road outside Clinton Cards and move the central island further north thus making it easier for buses to turn left into Fremantle Road. The reason for the delay was that the underground services had to be moved first. Fair enough.

And sure enough some while later contractors came along and dug up the pavement, moved the services and then ……. reinstated it all as if nothing had happened. So, why didn’t they widen the road while they had it all dug up – don’t ask me!

More time goes by and this time Transport for London return with funding for nice new shiny steel lampposts. Great – but one of these is placed outside Clinton Cards precisely where the road is to be widened. And that’s not all – that lamppost didn’t work all through the dark winter months. Why? Because the contractors couldn’t find the electricity supply – somebody had moved it you see! Are you following this?

This was eventually resolved by digging up the pavement again to connect our new shiny lamppost to the mains and bright light shone down upon Barkingside locals as they crossed the road at night. And so it remained, until today when I visited Clinton Cards this afternoon. That lamppost has now been moved back about a yard from its original position. Pictured.
Perhaps our Assembly Member could arrange for Transport for London Officers to attend Planning 101, Project Management 101, Critical Path Analysis 101 and Co-ordination 101? The Open University offer competitive rates which are much cheaper than Consultants.


  1. What a sorry tale of wastrels.

  2. My understanding is that the contractors discovered a whole uncharted mess of pipes and drains and cabling under the pavement at that corner which has made working there a nightmare.

  3. Classic!

    I really must pass this link on to my chums in the media (and facebook and twitter and maybe yahoo news etc.....).

    Truly Classic!

  4. Dozens of service companies all have the right to dog up the road, there is no coordination.

    So expect some bits to never be touched while others get dug up several times a year.

    One of the many legacies of Thatcher.

  5. Cue Judith!

    I have to tell you Adrian that I was giving orders to dig up roads with impunity back in the 70s and that co-ordination with other utilities left something to be desired!

  6. Ah! The joys of typos, Adrian!

    I recall that "to dog up the road" was once a reference to nocturnal goings-on at Fairlop Waters.

    But, seriously, didn't the GLA introduce some regulations to prevent this sort of thing happening? Utilities have the technology to map underground services (as on "Time Team") and this was done prior to the Gants Hill works and I believe a similar exercise was carried out at Fullwell Cross. Remember the 'pavement art'?

  7. jawal, I'm only going on what I was told by a local councillor - there were no records of ?prewar installations at Clintons Corner, and didn't they find hitherto unknown 'stuff' at Gants Hill last year?

    And I'm not sure the underground mapping devices a la TimeTeam would work infallibly, because of background interference which is also alluded to on that programme.

    Finally, B21, what's wrong with digging up roads with a shovel, b****r with impunity!

  8. February 1, 2010
    Penalties for utility firms who dig up busiest roads
    Jill Sherman, Whitehall Editor
    Utility companies face charges of around £750 a day for digging up busy roads under proposals being drawn up by ministers.

    Under the plans, water, electricity and gas companies would have to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds a year if they chose to carry out works on the busiest streets at the most congested times of day.


    I thought there was existing law about this, and I understand if a contractor over runs on the tube the fine is £250,000.

    What precisely is the problem with doing things right first time?