Well here’s a debate I never thought I’d get embroiled in. Recently my Twitter feed has been flooded with the most British of quibbles: Potholes.

It’s bizarre that this should stir such feelings within me, being allergic to cars as I am, but to me the potholes themselves represent a larger issue: the government’s approach to public grievances in general. They take note, but do not act swiftly or logically.

It all started when I decided to compile a Storify feed of reported potholes in Hertfordshire’s roads (see the feed HERE.) Looking through the responses, and the number of people channelled towards my post, it’s apparent how angry they are about this. That the council is not repairing these inherent dangers from our busy roads is unthinkable. Where is all our money going, they ask.

Well, in truth, the taxpayers’ money is likely going towards fixing the potholes. However, the scale of the operation is now so huge that any patching up is easily missed, as new ones are popping up faster than the old ones can be attended to. Due to the sheer number of road-surface blemishes, it appears a quick-fix approach has been employed; the holes are filled in, but so feebly that they open up again in no time – further angering motorists and increasing pressure on the authorities.

So who is to blame? The council for not spending our money properly! The council for making it too cold and icy! Immigrants!

Non-sequitur the first:

We had a skip outside our house once. When it was collected, the two metal legs had left vampirish incisions in the pavement. We contacted the council. They said it wasn’t their problem. Within days the helpful old boys down the road had packed the cavities with sand and finished it off with concrete. Their work remains in-tact to this day.

Non-sequitur the second:

Astronomers have taken to crowd-sourcing their research. Instead of relying on a super-computer or a handful of experts to analyse reams of data, they invite thousands of members of the public to take on the challenge. Give a massive amount of people a tiny workload instead of giving a tiny amount of people a massive workload. This increases productivity and accuracy. This methodology has been successfully employed to map the surface of Mars, and has lead to the discovery of asteroids and planets in the vast canvas of the cosmos.

So what?

Well, as a temporary solution, why not allow the public to take matters into their own hands? To paper over the cracks until such time as the council can finalise the restoration process. Of course, I’m not suggesting hoards of people dart out into the middle of a dual carriageway, sandbags in hand. But at least give them the right to access the materials that will alert drivers and make the area safer. Warning signs, packing substances, an official database of all known problem spots.

The reason the potholes get out of hand in the first place is that they are left alone, gradually growing and growing from accumulated abrasions. A simple, widespread, tactical approach will tackle the problem head on, instead of allowing it to fester and become unmanageable as it already has.


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