River Wissey Lovell Fuller

The Village Pump Soapbox

August 2002

What's wrong with Britain part two

What has gone wrong? There was a time when we, as a nation, could get things done. We built the railways in the nineteenth century, creating a nationwide network, including a maze of lines carving through London and its suburbs, much of it elevated on mile after mile of brick built arches. We created major multi-line terminals in the heart of London with stations of architectural splendour, such as St Pancras. In the 1950's we built whole new towns and new motorways. Nowadays we don't seem to be able to do anything. Where are the people with vision? I don't doubt those people are there but they just get bogged down with protests and committees and with politicians who are too afraid to take responsibility for a decision and seek to hide behind panels, consultants or more committees.

The new football stadium is just the last in a long line of debacles. It was going to be a new super stadium for athletics as well as football. It was going to be in London, or it was going to be in Birmingham or Manchester. After going round in circles it finished up that it was to be a stadium just for football and it was to be on the Wembley site. Crazy! Beyond belief that anyone could contemplate putting a new stadium of that size in the middle of North London. Birmingham, near the NEC and adjacent to the motorway network, was clearly the best proposal. Now, after three years and the expenditure of £126,000,000 of lottery money, an unbelievable sum for no achievement, the talk is of just tarting up the old Wembley stadium. What a fiasco!

The Millennium Dome, another fiasco, it cost almost £1,000 million in total. Just think what they could have done with that money. I suppose the one thing you can say is that they did at least build it, even if it was fairly obvious that it was going to be a white elephant.

Pickett's Lock, Enfield. That was to have been a national centre where we would hold the 2005 World Athletic Championships, but the project was scrapped when it was realised that it was heading for a £30 million overspend.

The new British Library was eventually built after years of procrastination, mistakes, delays and constant changes of design, finally costing £500 million, three times the original estimate. The new Scottish Parliament building will not now be ready until months after the deadline and will once again cost well in excess of the original estimate. After SEVEN years of talk and goodness knows how much expenditure where is the fifth terminal building at Heathrow? They haven't even decided if and when to start. And so it goes on!

Ron Watts

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