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Thursday, 10 July 2008

Too far from Westminster?

Once again, the A1 upgrade has been turned down. This also has to with FTTH.

It may not seem initially to have anything in common with FTTH but it is indicative of the way which issues which severely affect areas of Britain other than around the capital are treated. The A1 is apparently of "no strategic importance". The folks making this decision have obviously never tried to drive to Northumberland, or to Scotland via that road, nor understand why some of us live, work and play in the North.

The decision has caused frustration to many of us, and will continue to cause untold economic hardship to many businesses and citizens. The A1 should not be a single lane highway in the 21st century, nor should we be expected to communicate over the single lane, one way highway that is ADSL. There is similar frustration caused by the sloth with which ADSL broadband rollout has, and hasn't, been achieved in this country, and the abject failure to encourage FTTH. Or even to begin to understand why we, outside of London, need it ever more desperately.

Unless the policy and decision makers begin to get their head round the fact that the rest of the UK also has a valid contribution to the economy to make, and rural areas in particular, whether that is from tourism (that stretch of coastline is extremely popular as a destination but boy is it a ball ache to get to), small businesses, hauliers, or from the growth of new industries, our economy is going to continue to suffer. Let's not forget that Sage, for instance, are based just down the road from that particular stretch of miserable motorway so it's not like us Northerners are incapable of producing the 'goods' as it were.

Across the board, decisions are being made in Westminster which, to those of us further afield, indicate a growing failure to grasp reality, to apply common sense, or to help this country out of the deepening mire which years of appalling decisions and mismanagement have caused.

This particular decision will cause many of us to use other roads to reach Scotland, spreading the problem wider, and making it ever harder for the 'required number' of vehicles to use that road to get an upgrade. We will see more road accidents caused by 40 tonners driving through rural villages, more road damage on roads not designed to carry such traffic, more hold ups caused to those trying to travel (for business and leisure purposes), more costs for those who need to use the A1, in wasted time and higher fuel consumption, environmental impact as HGVs drive through the rural countryside where they should not be, and more.

It is difficult not to compare the problems caused by the A1 decision to those being faced by a throttling of traffic caused by insufficient broadband infrastructure. Social, economic and environmental impact from lack of broadband is considerable, and inacceptable. After all, that is about transport too - of packets, rather than vehicles, goods and people.

When will Westminster get out and about and understand they are causing more problems than they are solving with their decisions? Even us country bumpkins can see the ramifications of such decisions; we are not, after all, idiots as seems to be assumed by the suits.

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