Within about five minutes of the first lockdown coming into force, councils all over Britain started closing roads with gay abandon and without warning.
Anti-car fanatics hijacked the Covid crisis to further their own ‘green’ agenda. Residents woke up to find their streets had been turned into no-go areas overnight.
Cranes trundled in, dumping giant concrete planters to seal off access to motor vehicles. Metal barriers, bollards and numberplate recognition cameras were installed to enforce the ban.
No one voted for this policy. Nobody was consulted. No notice was given. The so-called Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were simply imposed on people by officials.
The folly of this madcap scheme soon became apparent, with the emergency services experiencing severe delays to response times and bus companies complaining that their routes were being disrupted.
Tradesmen, such as builders and plumbers, were prevented from getting to work. Journey times, especially for the disabled, increased significantly. Promoted as a measure to help the environment, these LTNs simply forced traffic on to main roads, increasing congestion and pollution.
The run-up to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations has given them an excuse to go into red tape overdrive. If you want to hold a street party to mark Her Maj’s magnificent 70 years on the throne, these killjoys will make you jump through all kinds of hoops
Buses drive as Union flags decorate Regent Street shopping district ahead of the Platinum Jubilee of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in London, Britain, 20 May 2022
A cursory, preliminary study would have pointed up these problems. But the Left-wing, anti-motorist zealots who infest Britain’s Town Halls simply weren’t interested. Ideology took precedence, and to hell with the consequences.
Yet in all other circumstances, these self-same council jobsworths are in thrall to the suffocating, tick-box elf’n’safety culture.
The run-up to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations has given them an excuse to go into red tape overdrive. If you want to hold a street party to mark Her Maj’s magnificent 70 years on the throne, these killjoys will make you jump through all kinds of hoops.
Organisers have had endless obstacles thrown in their way by petty bureaucrats. Councils are insisting on extensive risk assessments before they will give consent to close roads for the day.
Michael Gove, the Levelling Up minister, has been forced to write to local authorities telling them to ease off after a raft of ludicrous rules came to light. The Mail on Sunday revealed that party planners in Bournemouth were refused permission to hang bunting from lamp posts because ‘they were not designed for this purpose’.
They were also told they had to take out a £5 million public liability insurance policy.
In Hemel Hempstead, Herts, pensioner Gloria Odell was sent a 23-page application form, demanding she carried out everything from a Covid risk assessment to a severe weather management plan. The council also wanted her to draw up a ‘counter-terrorism plan’.
Not surprisingly, Gloria abandoned plans to hold a party for the 15 houses in her street, which was to have raised money for a local hospice. Another triumph for the prodnose Guardianistas.
In the Govester’s own Surrey Heath constituency, officials are insisting on a ‘slip, trip and fall hazards’ assessment and specifying that only reusable plastic plates and cups can be used.
They, too, want to know what arrangements organisers have for dealing with ‘extreme weather’. Are they expecting a tornado to strike Surrey Heath in June?
The daft demand for organisers to provide detailed contingency plans for severe weather is standard pretty much everywhere. Hasn’t anyone told these pernickety elf’n’safety commissars that in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire hurricanes hardly ever happen?
Funnily enough, the English have always managed to cope with summer showers. It’s not uncommon for invitations to barbecues and street parties to feature the age-old proviso:
If wet, in village hall.
In many cases, councils making these unreasonable demands are exceeding their statutory powers.
How many more times? Give anyone a modicum of authority and they will always, always abuse it.
Organising a street party should be fairly straightforward. Gove’s department has put out guidance busting many of the myths perpetrated by officials.
Michael Gove, the Levelling Up minister, has been forced to write to local authorities telling them to ease off after a raft of ludicrous rules came to light. The Mail on Sunday revealed that party planners in Bournemouth were refused permission to hang bunting from lamp posts because ‘they were not designed for this purpose’
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee June 1977: Street party in Radcot and Methley streets
For instance, you don’t need a music licence and nor are you required to pay a fee for temporary road closures, provided you obtain the go-ahead from the relevant highways authority. There is absolutely no requirement to purchase expensive public liability insurance, either.
The bureaucrats behind all this red tape are simply creating work to justify their own existence. For the past 30-odd years this column has been documenting the explosion of the elf’n’safety industry, compounded by the spiv lawyers who advertise on daytime TV, promising com-pen-say-shun for any minor inconvenience or broken fingernail.
They have created a crazy, risk-averse society which sees calamity lurking around every corner and reached its nadir during Covid.
I often wonder what the Queen’s generation, who faced real danger daily during the war, make of this cry-baby, cotton-wool culture.
To be honest, I don’t recall any of this palaver during the Silver Jubilee celebrations. I’ve been looking back at pictures of street parties from 1977 and there’s not a hi-viz jacket or hard hat in sight.
So if you are holding a street party and you encounter unwarranted interference from a council clipboard commissar, just tell them to shove off.
After Covid threw a spanner into the last couple of summers, we’re all due a right royal knees-up.
And the good news is that if you now find yourself living in a Low Traffic Neighbourhood, at least you won’t have to apply for permission to close the road . . .
This work/life balance business is getting completely out of hand. One of my ladies, who I’ve agreed can remain nameless, writes from Brentwood, Essex. On a recent visit to a hair salon, she found herself in the next chair to a woman with a laptop, mobile phone and notepad.
For three hours, while enjoying a number of ‘treatments’, the woman tapped away and gabbled into her mobile, obviously in some kind of Zoom wossname. She was so engrossed that she never once spoke to her stylist. Well, they do say the only way is Essex. But it certainly brings a whole new meaning to WFH:
Working From Hairdressers!
As John McEnroe used to say: You cannot be serious! That was my immediate reaction when I heard that Boris is considering appointing discredited cop Bernard Hyphen-Howe as the new head of Britain’s so-called ‘FBI’.
We’re not talking J. Edgar Hoover here.
During his disastrous time as Met Commissioner, Hyphen-Howe was responsible for some scandalous abuses of police power and miscarriages of justice.
Where to start? The criminally botched Paedos In High Places inquiry — aka Operation Midland — ruined the lives of distinguished, innocent men and their families on the word of a notorious fantasist.
Same goes for the knee-jerk pursuit of blameless disc-jockeys and TV personalities falsely accused of decades-old sex crimes in the wake of the police’s failure to nick Jimmy Savile. Hyphen-Howe also spent £30 million hounding 21 journalists — variously accused of phone hacking and paying civil servants for information. Not one was convicted.
During his disastrous time as Met Commissioner, Hyphen-Howe was responsible for some scandalous abuses of police power and miscarriages of justice (Drawing shows Bernard Hyphen-Howe, CPS and Metropolitan Police all in the dock amid Operation Midland inquiry)
Homes were ransacked during outrageous ‘fishing expeditions’. Innocent men and their loved ones were treated like terrorists. Yet when he left office under a cloud, Hyphen-Howe was rewarded with a peerage and a job in the Cabinet Office. He has a £5 million pension pot and a Swiss chalet.
When he was London Mayor, Boris is said to have wanted Hugh Orde, not Hyphen-Howe, as commissioner but was overruled by then Home Secretary Theresa May.
So what’s changed now? Why is the man who wrecked The Met considered by the PM to be the outstanding candidate to take over the National Crime Agency? Something stinks here. And you don’t have to be J. Edgar Hoover to work that out.
Former world boxing champion Glenn McCrory has been charged with threatening and abusive behaviour. His alleged crime is to have addressed two teenage waitresses as ‘pet’.
He’s been bailed to appear in court in August so we must await the evidence against him. But there’s nothing hateful about ‘pet’, a term of endearment in McCrory’s native County Durham.
I used to have a lovely Geordie secretary who called me — and everyone else — ‘pet lamb’. Do you think I should call the police and have her charged with a ‘historic hate crime’?
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