Blackburn’s roads

The Big Freeze that hit Blackburn with Darwen this winter inflicted massive damage on our already poor roads. Snow and ice left the already hole filled roads in the Borough with a  moonscape of pitted and potholed roads to be repaired right across the Borough. The roads have become a danger to road users, pedestrians, cars and bikes. At one point I thought they were trying to create a number of swimming pools on every street.

That’s why in last week’s Budget, Labour announced an extra £100 million funding for local authorities to help put the damage right – including an extra £143,000 for Blackburn with Darwen.

With the encouragement of Jack, who has had complaints from many residents on the state of the roads, the Government took  rapid and decisive action to ensure that our roads are in the best possible condition before next winter.

Knowing how this Tory /Liberal run Council has wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds that has been given to them by the Labour Government, and to make sure it is spent on our roads, the money will be ring-fenced, with the Council being forced to  publish a  report on the work they’ve carried out with the funding.

This means the funding will go where it should go – to plug the potholes.  And we’ll be able to make sure that Blackburn with Darwen Council has made the repairs properly and spent the money wisely.

You’ll also be pleased to know that Labour has recently announced plans to make sure utility companies repair roads properly after carrying out their work. Taken together, it is clear proof of our determination to tackle maintenance problems and make our local roads safe and fit for purpose.

All this comes on top of a trebling in Labour’s investment for local road maintenance over the past decade – up from £265 million in 2000/01 to £809 million in 2010/11, it’s just a pity that this Tory/Lib run Council has not spent the money wisely.

But we understand we must also look forward to help avoid another sudden deterioration in road conditions in the future. So, we will be ensuring that this Council will focus on longer term resurfacing and maintenance work.

All this demonstrates that when things go wrong, Labour is on your side. Taking the decisions in the interest of the many and not the few and working to make the road ahead as smooth as possible

Everyone has mucked in to help others

I got the shovel out again the other day. It’s been behind the front door for the past four weeks. It had snowed overnight.

There’s a surprise – after all, after the last few weeks it feels as though snow is now a permanent fixture. I cleared our otherwise dangerous steps, and then shovelled some snow off the public footpath outside our house and that of our neighbours.

There was nothing out of the ordinary in my morning exertions. Everyone in our turning has mucked in. As have millions of others who have been working very hard to keep their streets, their schools and their communities going since this extraordinary winter started to bite. We really have seen people acting as good neighbours, following the example of the Good Samaritan, and not walking past on the other side.

We read a great deal about those in our society who are selfish, who commit the most horrible crimes, or who by being simply selfish drive their good neighbours to distraction. But the overwhelming majority are not like that, and there’s something noble about the way in which everyone joins in when faced with adversity. Indeed, some of the stories of people coming to the rescue of stranded drivers and giving them food and shelter – in some cases overnight – have been truly heart-warming. Did someone say Britain was broken? I think not.

The one thing I didn’t think about as I started shifting the snow on the public footpath was whether I was going to be sued by someone who’d walked on my cleared bit, slipped, and blamed me for their injuries. If you read some of the papers you could be forgiven for believing that health and safety experts were instructing people not to clear public paths, for fear of getting sued.

There may have been a little creative reporting here, but it’s also true that when asked by one of the newspapers, the body representing health and safety workers was hardly unequivocal about the risk. If a company gritted beyond their property, but failed to do it well enough and someone was injured in a fall, they “could incur some liability”. The group in question, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, was irritated that its full guidance, which said that in the event it would probably be best to grit areas to avoid accidents, was not reported. Such are the perils of dealing with the newspapers.

I hope this flurry of activity didn’t put anybody off clearing the snow outside their houses and on the pavements. The reality is that should someone seek to take action against a householder in these circumstances, the courts would take a sensible view. It’s doubtful that they would agree that one person might sue another for negligence, and I rather suspect that in fact the court would look kindly on a householder who was doing the right thing by clearing the snow from the pavement. It certainly won’t be stopping me getting the shovel out again.

Weather woes

Weather woes, but whose fault is the mess
that has resulted on the streets of Blackburn?

According to the Councils ruling coalition of Tory, Lib-Dem and Darwen independent misfits it’s certainly not them.

“Residents are lazy, not tough enough, whinging, selfish and soft.”

These are just some of the claims made by Tory and Liberal Councillors and spokespeople during this period of terrible weather.

As usual with the Tories and their allies when things go badly wrong on their watch it is everyone else’s fault and not theirs. However, the facts point the blame right at where it needs to be. It shows that due to the lack of planning and penny pinching when it comes to providing adequate services the incompetence of those running the Council has led to the whole Borough grinding to a halt.

The list of problems is endless – schools are closed, businesses are suffering terribly, hospitals are being put under pressure and transport has all but stopped. Vulnerable residents who receive home care are being left isolated cold and hungry as their carers cannot reach them and they can’t get out to the shops.

This has happened despite the bad weather having been predicted for weeks. I mean this is the North of England and everyone knows at least once a year it does snow and we have icy conditions.

As usual the Council has failed to adequately plan for the inclement conditions. Despite the hilly nature of the area they have failed to supply salt bins where they are needed and unforgivably they have failed to fill up the few salt bins there are.

Cynicism has also surfaced as cars have been abandoned all over the Borough and the Council see an opportunity:

Helping the drivers by clearing the snow and ice? No that would need common sense and unfortunately our Council bosses lack that in abundance. Instead they spot a nice little earner and send traffic wardens out to put fixed penalty notices on all the cars stuck in the snow.

Hitting stranded motorists and saving money by keeping grit stocks dangerously low allows them to spend thousands more on their jollies including conference expenses and allowances.

Welcome to a winter wonderland Tory controlled Blackburn with Darwen style!

Happy New Year