Last of the Summer Whine

Two residents of Holmfirth have fallen out with their council over a £130,000 pedestrian crossing directly in front of their home.

£130,000 puffin crossing ‘unusable’ [Daily Telegraph]

On the face of it, this is a simple case of two planning decisions overlapping with unintended consequences. I wouldn’t fault Kirklees Council or the Wrays over this, except perhaps that the Council were a bit mean to even consider banning the Wrays from using their driveway.

What I do find astonishing, however, is the cost of the crossing. £130,000 seems an extraordinary amount of money for not a lot really. Four traffic light units, two poles, two push-button units, one controller. Presumably there were two advance signposts warning motorists as well, one from each direction. So dig four holes, a trench across the road to link the two sets of traffic lights, another trench to the nearest electricity supply, make good and daub a bit of paint on the road. Job done. It’s not as if they’re building a house.

That amount of money would have paid the wages of a labourer for eight years, and still have left enough to buy the equipment. Or, they could have taken two people off the dole and given them a flag instead. They could have worked daytime shifts and manned the crossing for four years, flagging down traffic any time someone wanted to cross the road. I’m assuming the £130,000 includes maintenance, otherwise the cost will be much higher yet, so my scheme would have to include the cost of a spare flag in case the first one broke.

Just how competitive is the tendering process?

Has it been stifled by red tape?

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