Yes] A monster 12-lane bypass will march across Britain]

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THERE have been sensational developments have at a public inquiry in the West Country, where a Department of Transport officer has let slip some of the real thinking behind the DoT's road-building programme. Here is part of his testimony at yesterday's session of the Nether Broughton Bypass Inquiry.

Counsel: Now, the main A1234 thunders through the tiny village high street of Nether Broughton, does it not?

DoT: No.

Counsel: No?

DoT: No. The road itself is totally silent and immobile. However, the lorries and cars that thunder along it do make a certain amount of noise.

Counsel: Bit of a clever clogs, are we?

DoT: You could say that. I prefer to think of myself as one of the fastest rising stars in the DoT.

Counsel: We'll see about that. Now, Nether Broughton is a typical English village, is it not?

DoT: In what way?

Counsel: The windows are all double-glazed. They have notices saying: 'Build the Bypass Now'. The place is covered in dust left by the lorries. The pavement is covered with wreaths and crosses left in tribute to those who attempted to cross the road alive but failed. There are many For Sale signs . . . .

DoT: Yes, yes, it is a typical English village.

Counsel: One of those which have helped to make the British countryside what it is today?

DoT: If you mean a hell of a place to build roads in, then yes.

Counsel: You propose to build a bypass to relieve this pressure?

DoT: We do. It is our dearest wish to bring a measure of tranquillity back to this once charming spot. In fact, we have been intending to do it since 1938.

Counsel: Perhaps you could explain why it has not been effected in all those 46 years . . . .

DoT: Well, first there was the war, when bypasses were a low priority and indeed might have helped the German invader. Then there was post-war austerity under Labour. Then there were the Coronation years, when the high street was needed for a street party. Then . . .

Counsel: Yes, yes, some other time, perhaps. Now, would you describe the projected bypass?

DoT: Certainly. It will be a 12- lane highway . . .

Chairman: One moment, Mr Twistleton. Do you mean 12 lanes each side, or six on one side, six on the other?

DoT: Neither, sir. It will be three on one side, nine on the other.

Chairman: What on earth is the point of that?

DoT: I did try to explain to you at our secret meeting.

Counsel: Excuse me - what secret meeting?

Chairman: Never mind about that. Explain again.

DoT: It is all to do with reversible traffic flow.

Chairman: What is reversible traffic flow? Will car drivers be allowed to reverse down the slow lanes or something?

DoT: Not exactly. It's to do with the main commuter traffic which goes one way during the morning and another way at night.

Chairman: What commuters? There aren't more than half a dozen people in Nether Broughton who commute. Will they get a lane each? Are you building everyone in the village their own lane?

Counsel: Or is this part of some more sinister programme? Is it possible that this nightmarish 12- lane highway, whose construction is likely to prove more of a headache to poor Nether Broughton than its present troubles, could be part of some Euroroute which will march across Britain, covering our glorious landscape in a ghastly web of concrete superhighways from which huge lorries can spit forth their miasma of pollution, shaking the road to bits as they pass?

DoT: No.

Counsel: No, what?

DoT: No, I don't think it will be particularly ghastly.

Counsel: Ah] So you do admit that there will be a web of monster highways laying a corset of constricting and choking concrete across Britain]

DoT: I don't know. What is a corset?

Chairman: I can't believe my ears. You've never seen a corset?

DoT: No, sir.

Chairman: Did you never dress up in mummy's underwear as a child?

DoT: No, sir.

Chairman: Good heavens. What a strange, deprived childhood . . .

Counsel: May I put it to you another way? Does the DoT plan to build huge highways for lorries across Britain?

DoT: Yes, sir.

Counsel: Ah ha] Of which the Nether Broughton bypass will form part?

DoT: No, sir.

Counsel: Then why in God's name is it a 12-lane carriageway?

DoT: Do I have to answer that question truthfully?

Counsel: Is there any reason why you cannot?

DoT: Yes. Because I have been told by the DoT that I shall lose my job if I do.

Chairman: You must answer it.

Sensational disclosures in tomorrow's extracts]