Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Times are hard (and doesn’t the mayor know it)

THE whole future of Weymouth and Portland’s mayoral services goes into the melting pot again this autumn when councillors meet to start debating budget measures and cuts for 2015-2016.

There are fears that Weymouth would be devalued as an historic town and have its prestige tarnished were it to downgrade or even scrap the post of mayoral chauffeur, limit mayoral regalia and functions and use the cash for something else.

Fortunately those in office have been training just in case cuts are made and I went down to chat to them about possible new approaches to the mayoralty.

It was raining when I found the Mayor and his chauffeur taking off their bicycle clips having chained up the new mayoral tandem to a handy lamppost.

He was hosting a civic event at the Pavilion where mayors from all over Dorset were already pulling up in their chauffeur driven limousines ahead of being officially welcomed by our Mayor.

I asked him, didn’t he feel a bit shabby and out of step with other mayors, having to attend his own civic event on a bicycle?

He replied: “It is a bit embarrassing, but you soon get over that. These waterproofs are really good and my chauffeur pedalled me here quite quickly.”

Once inside the Mayor apologised for being late and took his guests for coffee at a vending machine where they only had to pay £1.90 for a cappuccino. All proceeds will go towards new saddles and a pannier for the tandem.

Then it was on to view artwork by local students who had skillfully recreated plaster versions of several pieces of civic silver. The originals were sold off recently to buy the tandem and a stainless steel handlebar clamp to grip a small mayoral flag.

All joking aside, most will hope that any changes to mayoral life don’t drag this important civic office into farce, but times are hard and who knows what might be suggested next.

Whatever the future holds, any decision which devalues this historic position will reflect badly on the whole town.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys

WHAT a pickle Weymouth is in over its crumbling harbour walls.

Years of neglect suddenly came home to roost when the ferry berth wall cracked and required millions to repair.

Now it appears that other sections of harbour wall also need urgent attention, placing the council in something of a dilemma.

Do they go for an expensive quick fix, an expensive middle course which will last a few years or an expensive long term approach which will last perhaps half a century.

Yes, the council must cut its cloth to what it can afford, but there are such things as false economies and I’ve always been a supporter of the view that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

It may really hurt the authority to go for the 50-year repair option, but surely doing it properly allows the council to move on wheras any low cost choice will bring back the spectre of spending almost before the work has finished.

If a sensible approach is now being taken with significant amounts of harbour revenue kept to foot harbour upkeep bills then I feel the council must take its medicine, pay for the best repairs and claw the money back over a long period of time.

AS if motorists don’t have enough hazards and delays to cope with they recently faced another… a goose walking down the road!

The goose, as geese normally are, was in no particular hurry and waddled happily along taking time to see what the world was doing in front of it.

Behind it death was approaching at a rate of knots when one car driver pulled round a parked vehicle only to have to slam his brakes on a bit sharpish when presented with a feathered obstacle.

The goose survived much to the delight of children in several other cars which pointed the brash bird out as their vehicles slowly overtook the bird blockage. Makes a change from dodging seagulls.

You asked for it now use it!

A NEW facility could be opened in Weymouth and Portland to test the eyesight and intelligence of cyclists.

You would have had to have spent the last four years living in Outer Mongolia to have missed the never ending series of roadworks devoted to creating a new network of safe cycle routes across the borough.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds if not millions have been poured in to creating the network which is now so extensive it is possible to enjoy a ride from Portland to Dorchester without risking tyre marks down your spine.

So explain to me why many cyclists are spurning comfort and safety in favour of continuing to risk their lives by riding along busy and dangerous roads just a couple of bike lengths away from a perfectly good cycle path.

I’ve been held up in traffic queues behind cyclists riding in the road at half a dozen spots where there was a practically pristine cycle path right next to them.

This cycle path, I might add, had also been created specifically for their benefit against a backdrop of moans about how authorities always favour the motorist over the cyclist.

So, if you are a cyclist, practice what you’ve been preaching and use the facility you have been demanding. That’s what it is there for.


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