October 29, 2012

I used to think that only police officers had the authority to shut roads. But now it seems that any monkey in a hard hat, hi-viz jacket and a pair of workman’s breeks that displays his bottom-cleavage has the right to close the Queen’s Highway.

There was a time that roadworks had a man stationed at either end with a big lollipop that said STOP on one side and GO on the other. Okay, so one side of the road was closed from time to time, but the traffic still moved, the work was done, and there was no round-the-country detour for motorists.

Today, all you get is a crowd control barrier and a big sign that says “Road Closed”.

Having a couple of guys with stop and go signs is too much trouble. It’s easier just to shut the road. But easier for who?

Trying to get from A to B? Tough. Find another way that involves going through C, H and T to get there.

Once again, for example, the A70 in West Lothian was closed – as happens on an annual basis. It’s an arterial route used by busy people who are trying to run their businesses and get to work. And where are the diverted to? Along the narrow West Calder main street. Genius.

Just so show you how daft it all is, a few weeks ago a tiny stretch of a road in Somerset was closed, which resulted in a – get this – 47 mile detour for drivers.

I saw something similar in Fife recently, but angry drivers had simply torn down the road closed signs and tossed them into a field. (Amazingly, the workers were working on the pavement, not the road!)

What’s the betting that the roads are shut as a way of meeting Health and Safety guidelines, because cars travelling along a road pose a risk to the workers sleeping in their van. Or, sure, the guy down the hole will be safe, but the 12 blokes watching him at work might be mown down by a passing vehicle.

And, anyway, lunch breaks mean they don’t have two guys spare to work the stop and go lollipop signs.

Everywhere you go in West Lothian you’re faced with barriers and the familiar Road Closed signs – find alternate route.

It didn’t happen before. There’s no reason for it to happen now.

Drew McAdam



September 19, 2011


TWO things: car insurance and bulky rubbish uplifts by the council. You would think them unconnected, but bear with me.

There was a pile of rubbish at the side of my house and I arranged for a bulk uplift. Now, don’t get me wrong. This was hardly a mountain of junk. It wasn’t as though I expected the rubbish collectors to clear a scrapyard or anything. There was just an old bike, some ancient and rusting gardening tools, and that was about it.

But by the end of the allotted day the rubbish was still there. A call to Oor Cooncil drew a sigh from the person on the other end, and the comment “What have they come up with this time?” suggesting that this was a common occurrence.

The report uncovered the “fact” that they had come for the uplift but there were more items than I had indicated on the list (not true), and that my garden was full of dog doo-doo. (Not true – the only dog in my garden has been cremated and is resting beneath a rose bush.)

So, what about the car insurance? Well, council workers are being informed by the Big Cheeses that they are expected to obtain business insurance for their private, family vehicles because they use their cars to travel to Council meetings!

Now, I feel sure that those responsible will no doubt realise that if their workers are to purchase business insurance for their cars then they should be recompensed for their mileage, fuel and vehicle depreciation. That’s the way the real business world works, rather than Cooncil Fantasy Land. Just a thought.

And here’s another thought. Wouldn’t it be grand if Oor Cooncil concentrated their attention on doing the job for which they are paid – by us – and provided a service that works, rather than thinking up little oddities to make people’s lives more complicated?

Yes, I think so too.


May 30, 2011


A WHILE BACK, I wrote on this subject, and have been waiting ever since to see if anything would change. But it hasn’t.

There is nothing wrong with civic pride, which is why almost every county, town and city in the United Kingdom display “Welcome to…” roadside signs, and take the opportunity to express their area’s unique selling proposition. 

For example, Dumfries and Galloway have “The Natural Place”. Staffordshire has “The Creative County”.

Closer to home, Perth has something like: “The Heart of Scotland” while Edinburgh has two: “Inspiring Capital” and “Festival City”. Of course, Glasgow and Mr Happy grabbed the brilliant line “Glasgow’s Miles Better.”

So, what about West Lothian? Oh dear, oh dear. Driving into the county – from any direction – you are greeted by “Welcome to West Lothian” and the strapline “UK Council of the Year 2006”.

What? Is that REALLY the best Oor Cooncil could come up with? And another thing: what happened to the years in-between? I mean it IS 2011 now, you know. How long are they going to bang on about their wee award from back then, slapping it on every letter, brochure and border signpost?

Is this really the measure of Council imagination and creativity? (And PLEASE don’t go out and hire some firm of consultants who’ll charge a fortune to come up with something even less inspiring than the roadside slogan we have at the moment – if that’s possible.)

I mean, when you consider that Neolithic pilgrims from all over the UK would trek to the important ceremonial burial site of Cairnpapple in the Bathgate hills, we could surely have something like: “Attracting Visitors for Over 4000 years”. Or how about the fact that the shale on which the county is built launched the oil industry? That would give us “First Oil Capital of the World”.

There, I offer these suggestions to the Council for free.

Of course, we could incorporate “Silicon Glen” into a slogan, and even the simple “West Lothian Works” would be acceptable.

But, no, we are stuck with the ludicrous and redundant “UK Council of Long Long Time Ago” slogan.

Let’s face it: that turgid little phrase says less about the area and its people than it does about our self-aggrandizing bureaucrats – in so many ways.

Drew McAdam


December 11, 2010

Here’s a new word for you: “attendeeism”. Perhaps it is easiest to explain if you consider it the opposite of “absenteeism”.

Let me explain. During the recent bad weather the local authority took the decision to close the schools. That was their decision. Even if a teacher was willing and able to work, they couldn’t. They had, effectively, been laid off.

Clear? So why does Oor Cooncil then tell those on whom they padlocked the doors that they can either agree to make up the time, or treat the lost days as part of their annual leave? Seriously, that’s what they’re telling them!

So, even if a teacher trudged all the way to the school and then pounded on the locked door… tough. You lose a day’s holiday.

Does that seem reasonable or fair to you? No, nor to me either.

Even the LGE (Local Government Employers) website states that “By closing an office or a school or by instructing employees not to travel to work, the local authority is preventing the employee from working on that day and, as this is through no fault of their own…” Quite right.

And the TUC states that “Scrooge bosses” who… take away holidays are needlessly adding to their business woes by creating resentment amongst staff.” Doesn’t take a genius to work that out – which is why Oor Cooncil haven’t worked it out, presumably.

They go on: “Workers who have been prevented from getting to work… should not have to foot the bill for the bad weather conditions.”

Do Oor Cooncil think the teachers were on sun loungers sipping drinks at the side of a pool? No. They were not on holiday. They were digging their cars out of the snow and trying to clear streets so that if the weather eased they would have a better chance of reaching their place of work the next day. Some “holiday” that. And yet they are being penalised for a High Heid Yin decision to shut the schools.

If I was a teacher being robbed of my holidays I would be making an appointment with a solicitor. There are complicated rules surrounding lay-off clauses, including rules about statutory guarantee payments and so on, and in terms of the law and adverse publicity for their bonkers policy of attendeeism, these couldn’t-hold-down-a-real-job rulemakers wouldn’t stand a proverbial snowball’s chance…

It’s just another example of ill thought out, silly muddle-headedness by Corporate Services (yes, them again) numpties who couldn’t hold down a job in the real world.

Get a life, boys. And let the teachers have their life – and their holidays – too.

Drew McAdam