Counsel: Let me ask you once again, why are you building a 12-lane bypass for Nether Broughton? All the village needs is a dual-carriageway bypass. To build a 12-lane highway will mean gashing the local hillside, cutting down trees, destroying houses . . .
DoT: Yes. That is the point.
Counsel: The point is to destroy trees and houses?
DoT: No. The point is to create the maximum damage and disturbance. To create a gash on the hillside visible from the moon. To cut a swath through woodland. To leave earthworks reminiscent of a First World War no man's land. To send the bulldozers in like tanks into battle. To uncover the rocks beneath, and let them shine through like the bones of a tortured skeleton. To . . .
Chairman: Never mind the
cheap similes and metaphors. I thought you DoT chappies wanted to create the least mess possible, so as to get the public a bit on your side.
DoT: What I am about to tell you, sir, is for your ears only.
Chairman: Of course. Mum's the word, as Sigmund Freud always said.
DoT: Generally speaking, we do try to minimise mess and nuisance. But sometimes we try to create the worst possible eyesore.
DoT: Well, we know that whatever we do, there will be protest. There will be ecologists, and rail enthusiasts, and Green Party people, and celebrities, and media stars . . .
Chairman: Ah] Will you be calling Bel Mooney as a witness?
Counsel: No, sir.
Chairman: Pity. I rather fancy her hats. Well, what about that Robert Key fellow? He's a troublemaker, isn't he?
DoT: Yes and no, sir. He's a minister in charge of roads.
Chairman: Is he? Well, he always seems to turn up at these affairs, to stick his oar in.
DoT: Yes, sir. What we at the DoT call 'rent-a-mob'.
Chairman: I expect that's humorous. I'm not very good at understanding jokes made by other people. Carry on.
DoT: So our policy is to try to make one bit of road-building so obviously out of proportion and insensitive that it attracts all the protest - thus diverting everyone's anger from the projects we really want to build.
Counsel: You mean some road projects are created solely to draw the flak?
DoT: Oh, yes.
Counsel: Did Twyford Down come into that category?
DoT: Twyford Down wasn't one of mine, but I do remember colleagues laughing and discuss-
ing how they could find the most at-risk spot on the downs and drive a motorway through it.
Counsel: And Batheaston?
DoT: That's different. That is genuinely part of a new Euro superhighway to be driven across England.
DoT: So we can compete with the Continentals in the volume of traffic taken by road?
Counsel: But we already have more freight going by road than any other European country.
DoT: No, we don't.
Counsel: Yes, we do.
DoT: No, we don't.
Counsel: Yes, we do.
Chairman: I am afraid he is right, Twistleton. I have the figures here.
DoT: Gosh, I had no idea. How terrific]
Counsel: So the Nether Broughton Bypass plan is being made as deliberately hideous as possible in order to divert attention from other schemes?
Counsel: How do you ensure that it does become a focus for people's anger?
DoT: Oh, we employ public relations people. We leak the relevant documents. We brief journalists. We infiltrate the protesters. . . .
DoT: Easy. We send DoT people on training courses and teach them to live rough, up trees, in tents, anywhere in the open, and then we get them to join the ranks of the protesters.
Counsel: And then what do your infiltrators do?
DoT: They push very hard for the protest to be moved to one of our pet projects like Nether Broughton, which we know is totally unimportant, and will probably never be built.
Chairman: Tell me one thing. If you are a DoT man, why are you telling us all this?
DoT: Because, sir, I am a roads protester who infiltrated the DoT years ago in order to find out what was going on, and to tell the public when the time was ripe. And there is more to tell]
At this point a shot rang out and the DoT man fell wounded. This sensational inquiry has been adjourned sine die.Reuse content