2 December 2021

View from the top: Problem of abuse on local road networks

This past week has seen Storm Arwen create all sorts of problems, particularly in the north of the country. Whilst there were silver linings for some, such as being confined to the Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales for 3 days, in the main many people suffered, and continue to do so, with the lack of power and fresh water caused as a direct result of the storm.

In addition to the high winds, we also experienced our first major snowfall of the year, with communities being temporarily isolated and the resulting disruption to the movement of people and goods.

Its at times like this that you would expect every member of the public to be pleased to see the highways workforce out in these difficult conditions gritting the roads, removing fallen trees and clearing drifted snow from our roads.  Whilst I’m certain this is true for the majority of residents not everyone thinks the same.

Just a few days ago, I spoke with a managing director responsible for a local government service from one of the badly affected areas.  I was interested to learn that he had decided to go out with one of the gritting crews that had been deployed to treat part of the network to make sure that the travelling conditions would be safe for those who still needed to make journeys.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great surprise to him to see and hear drivers shouting abuse at the gritter crew for ‘getting in their way’ and for ‘grit kicking up onto their cars’.

I followed this up with discussions with one of the key figures in the British Parking Association to learn how they dealt with abuse from the public because of how well documented the levels of abuse are for Parking Enforcement Officers.  I expected there would be things I could learn, and I wasn’t wrong. To some extent and rather bizarrely, I took comfort in the fact that abuse wasn’t confined to road workers.

The same of course is true for our utility companies who can often be perceived as creating disruption which is unnecessary and untimely.

It made me think just what levels of protection we could afford such organisations and what we might learn from each other by way of sharing experiences and data.

I’d be really interested to learn from our Members and Associate Members just how bad they perceive the problem of abuse is on our local road networks, or indeed if you have any hard data, so please, drop me a line with your views on [email protected].