LIES, DAMN LIES & STATISTICS
The County Council have gone on the defensive, explaining to the Western Gazette why paralysing the town is in our best interests and how we should be grateful to them for all that they are doing … but let's pretend that we're savvy eight-year-olds and see whether we have the intelligence to read between the lines of spin.
I am, by the way, writing this whilst waiting for my first patient of Friday afternoon to arrive – predictably, the combination of POETS afternoon, school pickups and the genius decision to combine closing Hendford Hill and Brunswick Street with resurfacing work to the A30 (White Post area, start of the week) and A37 (Red House area, right now) means that the town has reached meltdown and is gridlocked.
So here are the roadworks in number form, best Daily Mail style courtesy of the Western Gazette. In nice simple soundbites because we're obviously stupid enough to have elected these people so we don't want any joined-up thinking.
14 – The work's cost in millions of £££s. £3M is being spent on the Eastern Corridor as we speak, with £11M invested in the Western Corridor from January 2016. The work involves improving roundabouts and junctions and providing better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.
Name me one "improvement" that has actually helped Yeovil's traffic. Every "improvement" I can think of has cost millions, caused weeks or, more usually, months of disruption and made no difference. Add this money to the £3.5M wasted on moving the Reckleford bottleneck 70 yards further up the road and you can't help but think of whether £17.5M couldn't have built some if not all of a proper bypass.
16 – The roadworks are expected to make journey times from Horsey roundabout to Lyde Road 16 per cent faster than if they weren't implemented.
Sounds great doesn't it. How much do you want to bet that: a) This is a guess; b) That it turns out to be wildly over-optimistic; c) that "journey times" includes cyclists and pedestrians at whom all the "improvements" seemed to be aimed despite the fact they can usually travel faster that traffic. There is also the phraseology to consider ……"than if they weren't implemented" – ie, Yeovil is going to gridlock when they build thousands of extra houses that nobody wants but maybe it won't gridlock quite as much if we do this and at least you won't be able to say we didn't do anything. Or maybe they're just getting us used to sitting in unmoving traffic as preparation.
Build a bypass guys and then feed your new unwanted and unnecessary estates off the bypass.
20 – There will be at least 20 hectares of employment land to be developed in Yeovil – 4.4 at Lufton and 16 at Bunford Park.
So much for the Green Belt.
Who do they think will want to come to a town with such rubbish transport infrastructure? There is an increasingly strong argument for moving at least one of our clinics out of town (the one that relies on cars to transport patients rather than the faster moving pedestrians).
23 – The roadworks are expected to make journey times from West Coker Road to Thorne Lane 23 per cent faster than if they weren't implemented.
Bearing in mind the decision to feed the access for the 1,000+ cars from the completely unnecessary and universally disliked East Coker development onto the A37 just south of the Hospice, and that much of this traffic will either be going down West Coker Road or Hendford Hill, is there anyone out there that actually believes that transit times will be faster. No? Good, because that isn't what this says. They will, of course, be slower because of all the extra cars, just maybe not quite as slow as they might have been. Or Not.
123 – the amount in millions of £££s that road users are expected to save over 60 years through reduced delays, vehicle operating costs and collisions on the Western Corridor.
Talk about plucking figures out of thin air.
…But, if they really believe that, just think of how many times over a bypass would pay for itself – you know, one of the traditional ones that goes around the town, taking away all the through traffic.
2,247 – The total number of houses planned to be built in Yeovil. The Brimsmore development involves 830 homes, Lufton 710 and Lyde Road 700. Upgrading Yeovil's roads is a legal requirement for future housing and development.
And here we finally cut to the chase … it's nothing to do with improving Yeovil's traffic flow, it's a requirement to be seen to be doing something to tick the boxes to allow the extra houses to be built.
So here are a few of stats of my own:
0 – The number of patients to whom I have spoken who want Yeovil turned into city. All those extra patients may be good news for patient numbers (assuming the disruption doesn't bankrupt us) but I came to work in Yeovil because I wanted a market town with a strong sense of community. Who asked the residents whether they wanted all this development?
0 – The number of patients who think the "improvements" will actually improve anything.
6 – The millions of hairs Yeovil's traffic planners have caused me to pull from my head.
352 – The number of patients who were affected by the traffic last week.
The people I feel really sorry for (apart from the traders who can only sit and count the cost of their potential customers avoiding Yeovil like the plague) is those well-meaning souls charged with reinvigorating the High Street. What is the point when nobody wants to come as it isn't a shopping destination and you have to pay a fortune to park when you get there; and how will it ever become a shopping destination when you CAN'T get there.
Cut the Rates – Fire the Planners – Build a Bypass.