‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

WEEKENDER: Infrastructure and the failure to improve it, by Wiggia

For years now we have been banging on about the lack of new infrastructure in this country. From roads to reservoir, it seems that little is ever improved. Various governments have ditched state organisations while at the ame time very large sums have been needed to improve infrastructure that has been neglected for decades.

And why do we keep coming back to all this? Firstly, because those structures that have been hived off to private enterprise have had mixed results: telecommunications have seen huge improvements in both quality and service, mainly brought about by competition, but other utilities suffer from a monopoly situation and any improvements are slow to non-existent.

The railways could be said to be an improvement, yet recent events have almost reverted the railway system into a state-owned organisation; and of course the public has been subsidising the railways in one form or another throughout the privately-owned era, which rather defeats the object of the exercise, except that the government of the day has someone else to blame when things go wrong.

The water industry is another monopoly, most now owned or part owned by overseas trust funds who are in a position to milk the public whilst failing to make real improvements. With water you have no choice, you are stuck with whoever runs the regional water supply. 

Despite claims that billions are spent on preventing leakage the system still leaks. In our local area we have regular burst mains, in fact we had no water for a few hours only a couple of weeks back, while it seems there are always rivers of water running down gutters. No, you can’t replace all those old pipes overnight, but how long now have they all been in private hands? 

I related a while back the quite ridiculous letter we all got from Anglian Water asking how we should all pay in advance for improvements. As a private company they should first use money they have or raise it on the market; if you are asking customers to pay in advance we might as well go back to state owned water companies.

An article in Tuesday's Times was typical of the way things are now viewed from those who would govern or instruct us. The Royal Horticultural Society, rather like the NHS, has stepped outside its remit and is telling us to let our lawns die as water is a precious commodity; we should, they say, be showing we are doing our bit for the environment as custodians of said lawn. Perhaps they shouldn’t stop with lawns but ban all watering of plants both domestic and agricultural, then there would not be a problem: no flowers, no food, job done.

The RHS is not confining its remarks to water used on lawns, however. As seems the way now, it has strayed into politics and 'saving the planet': a ‘water scientist’ of theirs said people do not realise we use 142 litres on average per person per day; they give no comparison with water usage ten years ago or any other time post-war.

The Environment agency backs this up with a warning that England faces water shortages within 25 years unless behaviour changes. Who are they to change the way people live? What do they suggest? Going back to sharing the same bath water? Banning washing machines? You can see the way it is going, like banning meat, all to save the planet.

This after two years of relentless winter rain, you ask what is going on? Two things: an ever-growing population expanding through immigration at a now alarming rate, and the complete failure to build any new water capture and storage facilities. We have 1950s facilities and a huge growth in population since then, the solution is quite simple but we are to blame. The only time you hear of future demographics is when they predict the population growth will slow and go into reverse; what they don’t say is that only applies to the indigenous population, not the late-comers who are rapidly expanding.

If one took notice of all the green pressure groups, and unfortunately governments give them attention way above their status, absolutely nothing would be built other than homes across the countryside. It helps governments of course in one way, as they can abandon such things as a decent road program or building nuclear power stations but will continue with projects such HS2 that will benefit very few at an enormous cost to to everyone else.

Sea defences on the east coast are to be shelved in favour of letting nature take its course. In place of sea defences, ther will be a plan for marsh land and huge areas of natural planting. Never mind that the proposal will take decades to have any effect, would the government abandon the London barrage and let the capital return to nature? I think not, though for many of us it would be a change for the better!                                                                                                                                                                            
In time nature will decide what stays or goes, there is no stopping it such is the power it has, not from climate change but from the fact the east of the country is slowly sinking as we drift further away from the European mainland. This has been going on for thousands of years, but forward planning could alleviate all that if only we had it; in the meantime flood defences are needed while decisions over the long term are made - or not, as is the case.

Government talks about upgrading infrastructure but won't spend to make it happen. They would much rather spend on short term projects as they believe it keeps the public perceiving them as actually doing something. Long term infrastructure reaps little in political reward, so is not acted upon. We are falling ever further behind our European neighbours in all things like road, rail, energy supply facilities and almost everything else, various surveys prove this.

As good an example as any in the eastern region is the A120 to Harwich. Anyone arriving from abroad for the first time could easily be persuaded they have taken the wrong road and are lost on some country lane, and there are miles of it before you get to the A12, an international ferry port that never has had proper access.

The spending in the past year on Covid-related items has shown there is no lack of cash when push comes to shove. How much of that has been wasted is still to be unearthed but it is tens of billions. Our incumbent political party has had a revolt among its back benchers who want to see the foreign aid budget returned to pre virus levels; no one voted for this so that some African despot can spend UK taxpayers' money on a new USA-built private jet, but virtue signalling wins out over the proper use of our money that could be spent on decent infrastructure.

Of course it can be said we did indeed all vote for this dereliction of their job description to represent the people. I did a George Carlin at the last election: I didn’t vote so cannot be blamed for any party's shortcomings; it would have been a wasted vote, for any of those put up would only encourage them to believe they do have a mandate from the people to hose our money into vainglorious projects - and extremely poor-value-for-money ones like the endless military items that never work properly but are never junked, yet have more money hosed on them because no one has the guts to admit failure; the latest armoured vehicle fiasco is a classic. 

£3.5 billion wasted! As usual no one is responsible and the pot holes round here get ever deeper. Does the government have any sound policies when it comes to spending our money or do they just stick a pin in a list of things they might like but that are of no benefit to us?

Oh and have they had that Dover rubber dinghy sale yet? There must be so many there they will be charging locals for storage soon. After all it would go some way, well a teenie way, to offsetting the enormous cost of those that used them to get here.

1 comment:

Paddington said...

Having watched what has happened to privately-owned infrastructure in the US, including governments and government entities selling off things like parking to companies, I have zero faith that things improve.