Opinion: Pavement parking, buses and a boost to the Royal purse
The chair of Cambridgeshire’s highways committee is calling for the government to act over pavement parking.
I get that, I really do. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking along the path only to have to step out into the road, or squeeze past a parked car.
It is even more frustrating if you are pushing a pram, or you are disabled and you’re forced to step into a potentially dangerous situation.
But here’s my thoughts, while it is great to call for action on bringing in stricter rules to hopefully stop inconsiderate drivers blocking pathways, it would also be great if the county’s highways team would do something about the state of those same pavements.
There are pavements all over Fenland that need a good repair job doing to them.
Some are so bad that, no matter whether or not there’s a car parked on them, it is still better to walk in the road.
Pavements can prove a dangerous place for unsuspecting pedestrians who can find themselves laying face down on one after tripping over an uneven paving slab or a crack in the pathway.
So while parking on pavements is an issue that needs dealing with, I would suggest that the chair of the highways committee focuses a little bit more on his own job and that is making sure that those very paths he is so concerned about are safe for us to walk on in the first place…
Buses have once again been in the headlines with operator Stagecoach stepping away from running a number of services in our area.
They say, and I have no doubt they are telling the truth, that the routes are not viable without subsidies.
You only have to look at a passing bus to know that with just a couple of passengers on board there is no profit.
Thankfully, for those who rely on our buses, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has once again found the cash to keep the services running with a new operator.
But I cannot help but think that the action, albeit very welcome, is a bit like fighting one massive fire that is never going to go away no matter how many times the Combined Authority steps in.
I know our Cambridgeshire Mayor Dr Nik Johnson is looking at bus services and what can be done to make them better and keep them on the roads.
Again fantastic. I’m a great believer in public transport as it is a lifeline for so many people – young and old alike.
But I can’t help but think that we as a nation need a new approach to the way our public transport is run, although I’m not quite sure what that would look like.
However, wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could follow Luxembourg’s lead and make it completely free – yes you can travel on a bus, train or tram in Luxembourg and you don’t have to pay a penny, unless you fancy travelling first class.
Its network is properly interconnected and importantly adapts to passengers’ needs – maybe we should be more like Luxembourg. After all we Brits do like a bargain, and when something’s free so much the better...
Doctors and nurses, teachers, train drivers and uncle Tom Cobley and all have been striking this year over their pay, with demands for higher increases in their renumeration.
There have been picket lines all over the place and the action has caused frustration and inconvenience to the population at large, who according to reports are, despite that, still largely supportive of the action.
But there is one group of ‘workers’ – and I use the term loosely – you will not find on any picket line, or indeed striking, because without so much as an angry demand made they have been awarded a whopping 45% boost from public coffers by 2025.
Yes, while the government drones on and on about there being no money to meet the demands of our doctors and nurses, there is somehow enough cash to cough up a staggering almost £40m pay rise for the royal family.
One of the richest families in our land, will see a 45% pay rise from the UK taxpayer from 2025.
It has been revealed the royal family’s grant is set to increase from an already jaw dropping £86m to £125m.
OK next year the grant will remain unchanged but it will go up the following year, and in 2026 it will be £126m.
Royalist or not, I think anyone would question such a huge rise in a time of austerity.
But when you consider the King inherited a wealth estimated to be almost £2bn when the Queen died – and all that while not having to pay inheritance tax either – it seems obscene that the government can find the cash to stump up for him and his family but not for the likes of our doctors and nurses who, let’s face it, are generally much more useful to us as a population...