Tatty roadside verges have become a feature of our letters pages as well as our streets.
Since the rains, metre high grass and plants have flopped on to the roads giving the Norfolk the appearance of the land time forgot.
No junction is complete without a plantation of cow parsley to obliterate the motorist’s view of the highway and, unless you’re in a tractor or a trucker, there’s little option but to poke your nose blindly out until the vehicle bearing down on you sounds his horn to warn you of the risks you’re taking.
It isn’t just the country roads that are being converted into conservation wildlife havens, it’s town centres too.
My little town is surrounded by acres of new-build estates and the green spaces between their ordered ranks are starting to look like there’s one hell of a hay crop just going begging if the local farmers can get in there sharpish.
The other particularly scruffy feature of every footway is the straggly line of weeds and litter lining the gutter and roadside margins which really adds to the feeling of decay and delapidation in the county.
Telephoning the council has proved futile - they’ll politely tell you that IF it’s a safety issue, the section you complained about will get priority treatment, although experience to date suggests your comments are simply water off the proverbial duck’s back. Two weeks after they indicated our ‘prioritised’ road would be sorted ASAP we note the mowing machines are conspicuous by their absence and it still looks like the Serengeti after the rains have come!
In times gone by this mess would have been tackled by local farmers who all have mowers these days, they would have buzzed up and down the road in ten minutes and left everywhere ship shape, but no doubt a plethora of health and safety issues prevent such a simple solution in our villages.
So why has this work been abandoned? As far as I can see from the crippling community charge bill I’m lumbered with every month, I’m still forking out the same amount of money in local and national tax as I was before they gave up mowing and managing the verges and I don’t know about you but if Tescburys persisted in charging me for groceries they hadn’t provided I’d soon be bending someone’s ear.
We are really starting to look unkempt and for a county that relies upon tourists to boost our flagging economy I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be faced with nettles and ragged hedges overhanging the roadsigns and blocking the view.
The general air of dereliction reminds me of those depressing Armageddon films where a handful of lost souls survive an apocalyptic event and are now compelled to wander the rubbish strewn countryside looking for fellow survivors and scavenging food from abandoned homes and villages.
Well if Steven Spielberg is looking for locations for such a film, a neglected West Norfolk is the place to head for!