Getting back to basics is what one lone campaigner in Swanage, Dorset, is calling for. As councillors spend taxpayers’ money on fact-finding jollies to far flung parts of the world, it is good to be reminded that what we expect for our money is simple, basic services, like filling in potholes. In Swanage, our hero has gone round the town circling holes in roads with white paint and adding a tag saying ‘Fix me’!
Dorset County Council has, needless to say, taken a stern view of this. ‘We have found several potholes in Swanage that have been marked in this way,’ says a council employed maintenance manager, ‘and anyone caught doing it could be prosecuted. It’s important to note that the roads in Swanage are in no worse state than the rest of the county or the country.’
Local residents, however, are more sympathetic to the pothole crusader. ‘If anyone on a motorbike hit one, they’d be a goner,’ said one. ‘Let’s hope the powers-that-be get the message.’
It is worth noting that the lone pothole marker may well be saving taxpayers’ money too as the amount paid out by councils in compensation has rocketed. For the first time in the South West, says a recent report, more than £1 million has been paid out by councils to drivers whose cars have been damaged by potholes.
Heavy rain and severe winters has increased the amount of potholes appearing on roads and drivers are more aware that they can now claim money back for damage caused by councils not fixing roads more promptly. The Swanage protestor is right to remind his council that they need to get back to basics, cut out wasteful spending elsewhere and get on with fixing our roads—before they have to pay out any more taxpayers’ money in compensation!
Tim Newark, South West TaxPayers’ Alliance