Ever wondered why there are so many roads and pavements dug up with no apparent sign of any work going on? Recent events directly outside my house gave an insight but also caused me to question is the cheapest the best approach?
Let me take you back to the beginning. I arrived back home from Leeds to find strange paint markings on the pavement outside my house. First thoughts were maybe we were to be ‘saved ones’ in some apocalyptic event. Later my neighbour informed me there was a problem with the water main and the recently re-laid pavement would have to be dug up on both sides of the road.
The following Wednesday (as promised) two large holes appeared in the pavement and my neighbour had water again – but the holes remained. The one pavement was completely blocked so the safety ‘elf’ had erected a plastic barrier in the road to create a walkway. This would definitely protect everyone from our 4x4’tless neighbour’s dubious driving. Well, apart from the old gentleman whose buggy could not negotiate the kerbs and he had to drive down the middle of the road to get by the hole and the walkway.
We also received a short note from Veolia explaining that the next day a separate contractor would arrive to fill the hole with recycled aggregate and take away the spoil. Sure enough the next day a large ‘Grab’ lorry arrived, stopped in the middle of the road and partially filled the holes – leaving room for another contractor to finish off with tarmac the next day. In minutes, the operator had also removed the soil dug out of the hole. The whole operation was planned so efficiently that the contractor didn’t even have time to stop off for a pee – so he walked between the rear wheels of the lorry and the wheel arch and went where he stood – in the middle of the blocked road. Very nice manners!
He quickly drove off leaving a small wet patch on the road and a load of plastic barriers blocking the driveway. No problems, my 89 year old neighbour quickly removed them. He wasn’t doing anything else and so much more efficient for him to do it than a contractor. (Yes, I could have moved them but cannot see the drive from my office window!)
The next day another contractor arrived and filled the holes with tarmac and even repaired the crazy paving on my neighbour’s drive. They drove off and then another contractor arrived to remove the plastic barriers. A final contractor should have arrived to wash the road and pavement down with recycled water – but its 4 days later and still no sign. Maybe the washing contractor is a ‘higher being’ and the G-cloud has not produced the rain!
All in all it has taken 5 separate contractors to get us this far and we are still waiting for the 6th. All through Veolia stressed its green credentials but that’s 6 separate vehicles, 9 operatives and 3 days of disruption, just to fix a broken water pipe. Pitkin (Norman Wisdom) and Mr Grimsdale would have fixed it in an afternoon and still had time for a brew!
Am I just showing my (increasing) age and longing for a bygone age? Driving back from Bristol recently I had the misfortune to discover that a combination of 3 sets of road works had created an ‘Italian Job’ style traffic jam that meant it took 2 hours to do the 2 miles from the M40 to home. Yet, at only 1 of those road works was any work being done. It might be cheaper for the utility companies but at our expense in unnecessary delays and frustration. Why should it take 3 days to fill a hole in the road?