In the world of motoring, what would £10,000 get me these days? A secondhand Mercedes, perhaps. An old Porsche, possibly. A new, top-of-the range Ka. Or a speed hump. Nothing too fancy, mind, certainly not one of the full-length, road-straddling patio table lookalikes with faux brick trim and hidden risers.

But, at a stretch, and if I bought in bulk, Murphy's would probably supply me with a smallish black mound to decorate the pot-holed area outside my front door. The white markings would, of course, be extra. But I haven't been given the choice, and nor, I suspect, have you.

At the last count, there were over 100,000 speed humps on English roads but it appears that not many of them are there out of consumer choice. Even those who initially lobbied to have them installed are now begging for alternatives.

Consumer confidence hasn't been helped by the baffling news that the cost of saving some lives might actually mean finishing off a few others. Worryingly, it now appears that the more speed humps I have in my street, the less likely I am to survive a heart attack. Or a fire. This is because emergency vehicles need to drive fast. Except now they can't. They have to go slower, their call to arms dangerously hampered by the speed humps.

As a result, the lives of around 500 cardiac arrest victims are being put at risk each year. For the residents of the London Borough of Barnet it was a risk they weren't prepared to underwrite. They voted to have them removed.

Brian Coleman, a rising local politician, was swept into power on his no-nonsense, no-hump policy. It has made him a local hero. Sensibly, he has left them outside schools, and care homes and generally in places where vulnerable people need protecting.

Other politicians have been quick to spot the vote-winning potential. Boulton in Derby, Birmingham in the Midlands, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea in London are all throwing more money at contractors to remove their previous handiwork. In Liverpool the council were forced to take the tops off their humps after several coffin-laden hearses became wedged on their peaks. As Barnet's hero boasts: "There are few councils still putting them in."

Unfortunately, he hasn't been to the London Borough of Islington lately. There are, apparently, more traffic restrictions in Islington than in any other borough. They have spent almost £5 million on humps and other paraphernalia. The plan? "To achieve a modal shift away from car journeys to more suitable modes of transport."

My neighbour, Emma, has decided enough is enough. Her 15-year-old Fiat Panda has finally given up the ghost, its undercarriage blown by the constant battering. In its place, she has decided to get a horse.

She claims the council are being helpful, albeit a bit confused about where she will park her beast. I am a little confused, too. The traffic is worse, not better. It now takes me 45 minutes to do a previously 15-minute journey to my daughter's nursery.

Cars sit, nose to tail, grinding along, chugging out fumes. She has developed asthma. So have several of her little friends. She already has a physical disability that means her back gets stiff. Strapped in her seat being thrown around by humps makes her back stiffer.

To counteract the stiffness, she needs physiotherapy. But the local authority employ only one therapist for the whole borough. As a result, she receives a maximum of two hours treatment a month.

In the meantime, they are building six more speed humps in our street. As I said, I haven't been given the choice.

Search for used cars

Comments