I spent all evening at a public meeting about my local road. (Rural road, growing towns at each end, too many cars, 22 deaths in 10 miles - It is a familiar story up and down the country.)
We asked who wants a lower speed limit. Parish councillors want it, district and county councillors want it, the MPs want it, we even surveyed local residents over three quarters of them want it. That was nearly a year ago.
The simple solution might be to knock up a few 50 mph signs and send out an occasional copper with a radar gun....
But that's not how things are done.
Government protocol means the road must be subdivided into identifiable segments, accidents and traffic movements must be analysed in each segment, engineers must collate the data and benchmark against national guidelines, cabinet papers must be prepared and voted on. The new limits must be advertised, consulted upon, any complaints must be deliberated at partnership meetings. That's the bureaucracy bit.
Then for the policy - we learn that today you can't just drop a speed limit, trust most people to see the signs and obey the law (with a bit of help from the police). The caring nanny state means that the speed limit will only be dropped if traffic calming measures are introduced so that drivers can't speed. This might make sense on short stretches of urban roads but through miles of countryside?? Of course funds aren't available, bids need to be submitted. Our last bid took 7 years to get approved. I feel another year or two slipping by.
The Highways department are working overtime, they are doing a great job, many man hours are being spent on my road --- but the tangible results? Suffice to say that we left the meeting last night with an agreement on the timetable to produce a timetable. It was a major achievement.