Road closure savings are a dead end
Wednesday 11th September 2013, 4:00PM BST.
AS OF yesterday, there were 23 roads closed across the island.
For anyone driving in the island it will seem like many more as a seemingly endless series of diversions meanders past the latest holes dug in roads.
A 15-minute journey can quite easily become a tedious cross-island odyssey of traffic jams and one-way routes down country lanes.
It is no surprise then that anyone sucked into a black hole of no entries should want someone, anyone, to pay for their misery of missed appointments and wasted time.
Environment, who frequently bear the brunt of public dissatisfaction with roadworks, agrees and is thinking of charging those who close roads.
But who exactly are these dastardly characters? Unfortunately, it’s mostly us, the public. Almost half of the current closures are by States bodies such as Public Services or semi-States such as Guernsey Electricity.
Charging them is like moving your wallet from one pocket to the other.
Of the others, four are for telecoms companies – and there are no prizes for guessing who will foot that bill – and nine are what might be termed private closures.
At least with the latter selection of builders, scaffolders and tree surgeons there is an element of ‘user pays’ but even there the work is often for bodies such as the Housing Association.
So, if it is not to save large amounts of money, what is the point of the charges? Is this just another stealth tax where the taxpayer pays twice for the same service rather than see government make genuine cuts?
To have any merit the idea should be promoted as an incentive scheme not a money-maker.
Rather than a simple one-off charge Environment could charge per day of closure and encourage contractors to work that little bit faster and even, heaven forbid, combine works rather than close the same road every six months.
There could be penalty charges for short-notice closures (not including emergencies) and works which go over deadline. And it could be scaled so that artery roads cost more to close, again prompting agencies to work together.
It may not save taxpayers any money, but it could save road users plenty of frustration.