Sunday, 31 December 2017

Local residents have won a victory against the bicycle bullies! Democracy in action!

Our road comes under the jurisdiction of Labour-run Ealing Council. A few weeks ago, we received a notice informing us of exciting, go-ahead, eco-friendly plans to allow a private company to set up a lockable bicycle rack parking storage thingy on the other side of our road - i.e. cyclists would sign up and be given a key so they could open the rack, wheel their bike into it, and lock it again.  This would encourage cycling, and would mean locals who didn't have access to their gardens from a back alley wouldn't have to leave their bicycles in their front garden overnight, or attach them to lampposts, or be forced to wheel them through their terraced house to the back garden. There were a number of problems with this plan, namely:

1. Pretty much everyone in the surrounding area has access to their back garden via an alley.

2. There's already one of these bicycle stations roughly two minutes' walk away, which doesn't ever appear to be full.

3. This appears to be one of those local government initiatives which involves solving a problem that doesn't actually exist.

4. It would mean people in our road would lose at least one - possibly two - parking spaces (spaces we already pay for): arriving back after 10 at night already means having to park several streets away, because every space is taken.

5. However burglar-proof these facilities are, the "vibrant" toe-rags from local council estates would have 'em open in a jiffy.

6. It would be a nice spot for lycra-clad types to stop for a nice long chinwag about how wicked car drivers are - fine in winter, when the windows are closed, but a pain in summer.

Personally, I'd prefer it if the council spent our money on something useful like replacing the lovely pear tree that used to stand on the pavement directly opposite our front windows, and which filled my heart with joy every time I caught sight of it. The council chopped it down two years ago, because it was getting on a bit. Unfortunately, the side of the house across from us looks like a municipal bog (it was a late extension, which some vandal at the planning office evidently nodded through because...progress, or something). I had rather assumed that the council would replace the old tree with another, what with Labour being so frightfully keen on ecology and Gaia and whatnot - but the council has probably spent the relevant budget on multiculti outreach liaison officers or transgender toilets. Or, given the fact that local streets have recently been infested by muggers who target single women walking home at night, perhaps the council could spend some money on private security guards (I'm not sure there are any policeman hereabouts - at least, we never see them).

Whatever, when faced with the threat of a stupid installation which nobody had asked for and which nobody wanted, the educated middle classes whizzed into action, inundated the council with emailed objections (my wife hit the ":send" button about five minutes after receiving notification), and - amongst other activities - organised a petition which practically every single local ended up signing. The result? The plan has been shelved. I suppose that, rather than aiming sarcastic barbs at our council, I should thank them for heeding the opinion of the people who, after all, pay their wages. Amazing what people can achieve if they just get off their arses!

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