IT is nearly a year since the Government announced with a great fanfare that a new branch of the Highways Agency was to be set up. Its task was to assist broken-down motorists (what do the AA and RAC do?), pick up litter in the road (Jeremy Clarkson calls
IT is nearly a year since the Government announced with a great fanfare that a new branch of the Highways Agency was to be set up. Its task was to assist broken-down motorists (what do the AA and RAC do?), pick up litter in the road (Jeremy Clarkson calls them Wombles) and to keep traffic moving in the event of accidents or breakdowns.
This agency has cost us taxpayers £80million to set up. It was rolled out last year on the M25 and has gradually spread out over the rest of the major roads in the country. The very expensive four-wheel-drive vehicles (why four-wheel-drive when they are being driven on tarmac roads?) are already a familiar sight on the A1, A14 and A505, as the training is based at Whittlesford.
Recently, it was announced that the Jambusters were now officially patrolling our roads. Great, we can all sleep peacefully in our beds.
What went wrong on the afternoon of July 21? I had to travel from the A1 to Sawston on the westbound carriageway. As I passed Godmanchester, I saw a broken-down car and caravan with a police car in attendance. As is the nature of traffic flows these days, the traffic was slowing up to have a look as they passed the incident.
I noted as I passed Cambridge Services a Highways Agency vehicle caught up in the traffic. I carried on to Sawston, visited the customer I had to see and headed back onto the M11. My expectations were that the traffic would be back to normal Friday afternoon levels, ie busy but moving.
I ground to a halt near Junction 11, crept up to Junction 12 and made my way home via the back roads. Has it cost £80million to set up another quango when nothing has changed? The traffic still grinds to a halt when there is the slightest incident on a major road. Where is the value for money we should expect from the set-up of such a service? Should we continue to throw money at this useless government agency, or should we just pull the plug on it and let the police carry on with what they have always done best?
MARGARET KING, Ansley Way, St Ives