So the Vicar of Dibley has spoken. The Rev Eric Pickles has decided from his Olympian fastness in DCLG that councils are getting it wrong – that we don’t understand what Government wants – that we choose to clutter our streets with signs, bollards, railings and other street clutter.
One has to ask is this really what we pay a Secretary of State for. For a man who says he believes in, localism, localism, localism he has a tremendous tendency to meddle, meddle, meddle.
The only way to decide how our streets should look and function is by local councillors working with local people, local, businesses and the users of areas to decide:
- What an area’s function should be;
- How we can physically react to the pressures of urban areas often built long ago when those pressures were very different
- How to reconcile different opinions and needs within the area with residents often having a different view than business people and motorists.
- What’s safe in what circumstances and what isn’t.
Of course the Vicar has a role to play. He and the Verger from the Department of Transport should take a bonfire to their guidance notes, restrictions and regulations. If they do that we can get on with our role of community leadership reconciling different opinions and different needs.
Frankly we don’t need telling by Eric that we need to make our environment as simple and as welcoming as possible. We’d probably do it quicker if he got his tanks off our lawns!