Saturday, 14 July 2007

It's that Mayor again

My reader expressed surprise the other day that I had a blog that involved complaining, and he hadn't yet read a complaint about the gripe that he most associates with me - Ken Livingstone. He has sat through many a dinner and many a pub session in which I have waxed lyrical (and somewhat angrily) about the loathsome little man in question.

The reason that there hasn't been so much complaining about him is that Ken is really a zone 1 Mayor, and therefore doesn't affect me as much now that I am in Gripe Hall (Blackheath) as he used to in The Gripe Apartments (next to Tower Bridge). There, your correspondent used to have all sorts of ridiculous detours and fines and nonsense to endure, including when Ken allowed David Blaine to take it upon himself personally to annoy your blogger by sitting in a perspex box suspended outside The Gripe Apartments for some 7 weeks. Ken, not content with taking the Major to tribunal over alleged congestion charge offences (and losing, by the way), decided to allow someone to ruin his summer by putting on his doorstep all sorts of ruffians and ne'erdowells who wanted to make off with his wallet (or, at least, the contents of it).

Yet, just the smallest amount of digging finds that the old leftie has, in fact, now expanded his mission to the area around Gripe Hall and (it appears) is not too far away from a decision that has needled its irksome way into my life.

In particular, getting rid of the northbound tidal contraflow in the Blackwall Tunnel on weekday mornings. The traffic was always bad there, and always extended back beyond Blackheath, turning a 5 minute drive to North Greenwich into a 25-minute one. Now, you are lucky if it is less than an hour to do the simple, 1-mile (or so) journey down the A2 to North Greenwich. And going through Charlton won't help either, as a number of others share Major Gripe's resourcefulness and have had the similar idea.

Why, you might ask, was this decision taken? According to the Mayor's website, it was due to a number of near misses over the last few years. It also states that anyone wishing to see video footage of the near misses can get hold of them by calling a phone number. So, I called the number a few weeks ago and asked for the footage. I was told that I couldn't have it because I wasn't a journalist and therefore had no reason to be interested in it. When I countered that I was interested enough to be researching it on the internet and calling them, and that my reason for wanting to watch it was that I now had plenty of time to fill sitting in the traffic jams caused by the decision, I was met with refusal. I have just checked back and I can no longer find the reference, suggesting that it has been removed. What is there, however, is an article saying that although TfL admits that it should have consulted with the public and with the local boroughs (and admits that it failed to do so), it has made the decision now and so won't open it up to consideration. Thanks for that.

So the reader will be pleased to know that yet again Red Ken has returned to haunt the Major and is right under his skin. Expect future entries on him with which to fuel your nostalgia for my previous rants.

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