Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday 26 June 2010

A paradox. A most ingenious paradox!

To continue the paradox theme, here's an interesting little vignette from the world of local government. Our heroes are a couple of retired teachers from Holmfirth. In 2007 they were given planning permission by Kirklees Council to build a driveway outside the house where they had lived for 30 years.

Four months later, the Council announced that it was putting a puffin crossing (actually a Pedestrian User-Friendly Intelligent Crossing, but I think the acronym may have been deemed slightly unfortunate and prone to ill-mannered graffiti) right in front of their their house.

Then came the coup de grace. In a novel variation of the time-traveller paradox, the Council issued a stopping-up order denying the Wrays use of their own driveway because it was too close to the crossing.

Part of the problem here is that local authorities act on a timescale which makes continental drift look indecently hasty: it's possible for projects to spend so long in the planning stage that by construction time, everything else has evolved beyond recognition and the original planners have long since retired.

And in any case, we're talking about Kirklees Council. Remember them? Won't let you be cremated in your own clothes? A £10,000 court case for a wind-blown sweet wrapper? Job advertisements in Gobbledegook(though admittedly that hardly narrows it down)? And recently responsible for this wonderfully ironic headline on Food Vision's website:

'Kirklees submit awards for award
Kirklees council has submitted thier [sic] Healthy choices award for a Food Champion award'

There's got to be some sort of metaphor in awards being awarded for awards, presumably ad infinitum (H/T Mark Wadsworth).


  1. I once spent a happy hour wandering about the streets of Huddersfield asking people the way to Kirklees. Nobody knew where it was.

  2. It's always a bad sign, isn't it, if a focus group has decided to call the authority after some obscure suburb or local river.

    Another example is Carrick Council in Cornwall. I have often wondered whether any resemblance to Mary Gentle's fictional planet Carrick V ('Golden Witchbreed')and its semi-amphibious primitive natives is deliberate - perhaps an exquisite form of revenge for some bureaucratic idiocy.

  3. I can (sort of) forgive them the mix-up that meant the crossing got built across a driveway they'd had permission to build.

    As you say, the slowness of any bureacracy, compounded by the dimness of council builders who will build it there if that's what their plans say, makes tghis sort of cockup inevitable.

    But to then hound them through the courts, instead of saying 'Ooopsie! Our mistake!'..?

    Someone needs to be sacked.

  4. And the crossing cost £130,000! Mindblowingly ridiculous amount of money.

  5. JuliaM: 'someone needs to be sacked'

    ...and it's a fair bet it won't be the lawyers. In fact, given Kirklees' litigation-happy policy, I'm thinking of suggesting that the Urchin, who wants to study Law, should aim for a job on their legal team.

    Mrs R, I'd like to know how much of that £130,000 is actual parts-and-labour, so to speak, and how much paid for people to stand around with clipboards or have meetings.

  6. Another example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

    And they want to share services amongst councils up here! They can't even share information between themselves.


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