The Americans of course have a word for it; unfortunately, it’s a rude word so I’ll allude to it directly only the once: ‘Clusterf*ck’ (herefter emphasised to ‘CF’).
So what is a CF? I’m so glad you asked: a CF is where you do something really, really stupid and rather than say ‘that was a bit daft’, you try to fix the problem … which makes it worse. Then, through a dogged mixture of pride, stubbornness and sheer bloody stupidity, you try to fix that problem too … which makes things even worse but by now there’s no going back so you carry on and by this time usually your house has been burned to the ground, your business bankrupted or, in the case of Yeovil, the traffic gridlocked to the point where everyone goes to do their shopping in Sherborne or Dorchester.
Some fifty years ago, councillors decided that putting a bypass round the town would be far too conventional and also stuff their chances of a local game of golf and so, with great foresight and no self-interest whatsoever, elected to put it through the middle of town instead, at once ensuring Yeovil was cut in two; became dirty, noisy and smelly; and frequently gridlocked by the simple fact that, at several points, two lanes merge into one, thus causing turbulent, chaotic flow as soon as the traffic volume reaches a certain point (can you tell I used to be a physicist?).
Since then, the traffic department (now conveniently situated out of town and staffed by people who don’t actually have to drive in Yeovil), have been convinced that they are just one simple fix away from solving the problem: a new set of traffic lights, a one way system, a mini-roundabout – this, ladies and gentlemen, is a CF: so much so, that it is now, I am reliably informed, highlighted at at least one American University as the classic example of CF in town planning.
The latest futile attempt consists of three months of blocking both western approaches to our clinic (and pretty much the whole of Yeovil) in order to put some traffic lights on a roundabout. As a daily commuter down Hendford Hill, I agree the system does’t work – particularly during school time when the queues are three times as long. Anyone who drives in Yeovil could tell you that … which is why the Taunton-based County Council decided to start the work on the LAST day of the Summer Holidays!
Having driven past yesterday evening, it was nice to see that, after four days, they’d managed to break up some tarmac. Nobody was working of course; the idea of overtime during the daylit evenings or weekend working to speed through the paralysis of the town not having occurred to anyone who doesn’t actually have to come to Yeovil: it is, after all, only the A30.
I presume the tarmac-breaking is to do with the ‘improvements for cyclists and pedestrians’, which seems a bit unfair, as I’m regularly overtaken by both as I crawl down The Hill of a morning, suggesting that they don’t really need further speeding up. For those of you who are beggared into disbelief that putting up some traffic lights could involve closing the major way into Yeovil for quarter of the year, you will need to recall that this is from the people who, four years ago, spent over £3 million and ground the A30 to gridlock for five months in order to move the bottleneck at Reckleford 70 yards further down the road.
We don’t need more traffic lights, either at Horsford or, indeed, at the junction of Lyde Road with the A30 (next on the CF list). We need a bypass – as, come to that, does Crewkerne: my route between clinics today (avoiding the annual fair which has to all intents a purposes closed the A30 there as well) consisted of A358 – A303 – A37 – Sparrow Lane – Lyde Road. It took 23 minutes and was twice as long as it could have been down the A30, but that’s probably as much time as I would have spent just sitting on Preston Road or Lysander way, being overtaken by pedestrians, who would also greatly benefit from not having to breath in the fumes from A30 through-traffic, which needs to be taken out of the town. So, next election, vote of a councillor who wants a bypass and promises not to waste yet more millions on CF schemes which F-up clinic schedules, businesses, retailers and make F-all difference to traffic flow.