April 26, 2010


In recent years successive government departments have promoted buses as an efficient way to combat global warming and traffic gridlock. We are encouraged to leave the car at home and catch the Number 44.

Sounds sensible on the face of it. But if you apply a smattering of logic it becomes obvious that it’s utter nonsense.

Consider this: even if the bus IS more efficient and greener – which I very much doubt – when sitting at a bus stop it creates a tailback of parked cars, all of which are producing more greenhouse gasses than if they were allowed to simply carry on their way.

And have you noticed that when you do finally manage to get clear of the bus that’s been holding back the line of cars (and there will be another just ahead, don’t worry) it’s carrying only one or two passengers? A great big bus with a great big engine pumping God-knows-what into the atmosphere so that two people and a dog can get to The Buroo. Hardly sounds like a way to save the planet.

Now, buses are probably a good idea at rush-hour, granted. But for the other 11 hours it’s the stop – go – stop journey these wheeled boxes create for all the cars stuck behind them that really irks. With every stop, more cars join the queue until the bus is leading a mile-long procession through the town.

This isn’t helped by the number of bus stops, either. Take Polbeth; a village hardly a half mile from beginning to end. But it has eight bus stops – plus a temporary stop – within the village. And just yards outside the boundary there are another four! That’s thirteen places where a bus can block the street and create a jam, keeping a line of busy individuals and delivery trucks from going about their business, while a couple of dozy passengers fumble around in bags and pockets looking for the right change. And that’s just one village. Does that sound sensible to you?

Yet drivers put up with it every day. The next time you’re driving around a West Lothian town, try driving at bus-speed and stopping every 100 yards to ask whoever happens to be on the pavement if they have change of a fiver. I guarantee you won’t get very far before one of the drivers in the following cortege pulls you from the vehicle and gives you a hefty slap – or the police pull you over. But buses get away with it.

The conclusion? If you want to free up the traffic and reduce air pollution in West Lothian it might make more sense to reduce the number of buses trundling around our roads, and encourage people to take the car.

Drew McAdam



October 5, 2009


On the face of it, it seems like a good idea; the Government has recently launched an advertising campaign aimed at turning young people away from knife crime.

The campaign includes trendy displays, online adverts and TV commercials with the slogan: “Carry a Knife and Lose Your Life”. Very clever.

Home Office minister David Hanson said: “The vast majority of young people are honest and law-abiding and won’t tolerate violence in their neighbourhood. This campaign targets the small minority who break the law.”

Sounds good. Except we already know it’s a minority who carry knifes. Oh, and paying an ad agency and splashing out taxpayers money to develop a campaign to encourage thugs to leave their knives at home where they belong in the kitchen drawer seems a bit questionable. Particularly when we already pay the police to do just that.

This becomes even more apparent when you read what the brains behind this campaign had to say. Alistair Graham, a creative partner at Ogilvy, who created an anti-knife-crime ad for MTV, says: “For some people, carrying a knife is a way of life, so campaigns have to sneak up on you.”

No, what these knife-carrying neds need creeping up on them is not some trendy advertising campaign, but rather a big, burly policeman with an equally big burly truncheon in his hand.

You see, I doubt very much if the kind of slug who carries a knife as “a way of life” is going to pay much attention to an advert – assuming that he can actually read, of course. Does the Home Office really think that some bayonet wielding mugger is going to look at the clever-clever advert, say “You, know, I never thought of it that way before!” and drop his favourite blade into the bin?

Honestly, these civil servants must be having a laugh. At our expense.

What we, the public who are paying for this, want is to see is the thugs who would carry a knife – other than for pencil-sharpening duties – off the streets and locked up in a secure place where they are nervous about dropping the soap in the communal shower block. And for that, what we need is a police force who go out there and find them, then drag them off screaming to a damp cell.

Expensive, trendy advertising is the last thing we need. What we need is a Government and a police force that doesn’t mess around, and simply get the job done. All right?

Drew McAdam


May 18, 2009


ON A RECENT visit to Paris I was struck by the difference between that great city and West Lothian. And I don’t mean the big things; I mean the little things.

Livingston has neither a Louvre nor a big tower that lights up at night, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Any West Lothian town centre at midnight is quiet in terms of numbers, but still manages to be a cacophony of shouting, squealing and breaking glass.     Read the rest of this entry »


March 8, 2009

THERE WAS A TIME when I had the utmost respect for police officers. Truly I did.

They regularly pounded the beat and made themselves familiar among the local community. Should you be on an apple scrumping spree and sprinted off clutching your spoils there was every chance that you would cannon into PC Murdoch at the next corner.

Recently, I was pulled over by a patrol car for having only one taillight.       Read the rest of this entry »