It’s always tempting for any citizen and anyone involved in any particular business or level of government to point out the deficiencies of other people, other business and other local government. Indeed, I think it would be fair to describe it as a national pastime.
However, just occasionally, it seems reasonable to take note of occasions when somebody actually gets something right.
So I think it’s worth mentioning that, in this latest episode of heavy snowfall, Dorset County Council did get something right.
When the last heavy snowfall came, I was very concerned to discover that, although the biggest roads were cleared relatively quickly, there were some villages in West Dorset that were virtually cut off because the roads to them were not sufficiently major to qualify for rapid clearance.
As a result, I sat down with various people at the County Council – both councillors and officers – and they devised a plan for making sure that the same thing didn’t happen again the next time.
When a plan of this sort is put together you never know whether it will turn out to be just a set of good intentions or whether, on the contrary, it will do exactly what it is meant to do.
In the course of the last few days, I have not had the opportunity to visit anything like all the villages that were affected last time round. But I did travel through a decent, representative example during the height of the snow – and I have also received a number of communications from people in villages that I haven’t visited myself over this period.
On the basis of this, admittedly unscientific but reasonably large sample, I think it is pretty clear that the plan has broadly worked.
I am sure there is someone reading this fuming because their own village was the odd one out. But at least I think we have got to the position where West Dorset has moved beyond just protecting the main arteries and has actually developed means of ensuring that the lanes are looked after too.
So far as the tiniest rural roads are concerned, I think we will have to go on relying on voluntary effort and nature to clear the snow. But it is at least a relief to know that this beautiful white substance should not in future be the cause of whole villages being cut off for days on end.
So, unfashionable as it may be, I think this is a moment at which we should pay tribute to the hard and good work of Dorset County Council and of the parish councils who have also been a crucial component of this improvement.