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Pro-roads? Then stand for election! - ALAN FRANKLINS personal opinion

Imagine you could drive into a town to do some quick shopping and just park in the street, without constant fear and harassment from the parking gestapo.

Imagine you could drive into a town to do some quick shopping and just park in the street, without constant fear and harassment from the parking gestapo.

Well, this dream may soon come true in Camberley, as our front page story tells.

A parking "free for all" is just what we need. Watch trade rise as motorists soon head for Camberley.

One town they will be exiting from is Fleet, where a typically barmy scheme is being touted by local Conservative councillors.

Coun. Sharyn Wheale, a councillor I have always thought a good ward representative with more brains than most, has let me down this time.

Elvetham Heath developers and others have had £2.5 million extracted from their coffers to improve Fleet's roads. What Fleet needs is more roads, wider roads and junction improvements, particularly left turn lanes. Then it could go some way towards coping with the huge population influx which will otherwise shortly result in permanent gridlock.

What Fleet is likely to get is a badly blocked High Street with, for much of the time, no parking spaces for casual, quick shoppers and lots of idiotic humps, bumps and general aggravation.

This is what Sharyn means when she talks of "town centre improvements."

This is Orwellian newspeak for "town centre destruction." Sharyn talks a lot about the allegedly poor pavements. Hogwash. There is little wrong with the paving slabs, save for the odd cracked one. An average contractor could sort out these minor irritations for a couple of thousand pounds. Not two million!

Councillors who themselves budget carefully before doing improvements seem to go bananas when faced with council budgets. The idea that you can sensibly spend £2.5 million on Fleet High Street is so loony that I can hardly believe otherwise sane people are falling for it.

It is also untrue that Fleet will "lose" this money if it is not immediately spent on the town centre. This is just "spin" and should be discounted. The cash can be spent on real, urgently needed local road improvements anytime in the next few years. It cannot be spent anywhere but Fleet.

The main road between Fleet and Aldershot, dangerously winding, narrow and unsuited to the 21st century, should be widened and straightened. If we had any wide-awake county councillors that would be a priority, but they are too concerned with being perceived as "politically correct" and anti-car.

As it is we get idiotic witterings about "traffic calming." Try driving over humps when you have a bad back or neck, councillors!

Even worse than all the above was the fate of Fleet's excellent new councillor, independent Denis Gotel, when he tried to put the facts to the people recently with a home-made exhibition in the High Street. A pack of Tories swooped on him, trying to grab his publicity and confuse the public.

Among them was Stephen Parker, famous for fouling up the traffic flow through Ancells Farm estate with a ridiculous series of "build-outs" which daily infuriate drivers trying to get to work.

The good news is that Hart's council elections are in May with one third of the seats up for grabs. Let's hope lots more independents are elected onto this and other local councils, as Denis was last time round. All they need is independent minds, common sense and a pro-roads, anti council tax waste policy. They should sweep the board. I sense the public is eager for political change.

Remember, though, you must get out and vote. Otherwise writing plaintive letters to me will achieve very little.

The only thing the National Health Service is first class at is managing. Managing to waste money, that is.

Despite frantic spin from Phony Tony's mates, suggesting that things are improving, our page one story gives the lie to that.

Once infamous for being the only organisation in Europe with more employees than the Red Army, the NHS, with its sometimes filthy wards where you can stand a good chance of catching something very nasty, even if only in for a check-up, is a byword for blithering inefficiency. A bit like everything run by the state and local councils, really.

In case you wondered why your taxes and rates are rocketing under our Socialist masters, the reason is that they couldn't run a bath, never having worked in industry or run any sort of business where balancing the budget was essential to survival.That's why the number of state employees rose by a bloated 150,000 last year. Dr. Maurice Slevin of St. Bart's found there are now as many administrators as nurses in the NHA, the percentage of admin staff being 25.7 of the payroll. He points out that if 100,000 of these useless fact shufflers were culled billions of pounds could be freed for real medical work.That's without tax rises.

The same story is writ large in every government department and all council back offices. Legions of tea-drinkers, wasting their time and your money. I see their vacuous outpourings pumping out at me in e-mails and press release faxes every day - every hour.

They are a waste of time and space- and our taxes.

The earnest tree inspectors, "best value evaluators," healthy eating advisors (try minding your own business!), anti-smoking operatives (ditto) and the department of stupidity which each Christmas sends me a list of approved "green"presents (really) should all be for the chop. Bring on the revolution!


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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