We could be in line for a wonderful hoo-ha

By Charlotte Hofton

Friday, January 23, 2009

 

We could be in line for a wonderful hoo-ha

A bus and a car have difficulty passing in Pixley Hill, near Freshwater.

THE VIEW FROM HERENOTHING beats a really good rural hoo-ha, does it? In 1995, a fantastic hoo-ha about the flooding at Shalfleet Bridge exploded in excitement when Island MP Barry Field made an astonishing speech in the Commons about the controversy.

He hurled accusations about, slamming Isle of Wight councillors and even (fancy!) the County Press, as well as invoking freemasonry and homosexuality in his rant.

The Battle of Shalfleet Bridge has never been bettered in hoo-ha terms, until now. But the Battle of Pixley Hill is already a splendid furore and, with any luck, will surpass Shalfleet Bridge in the Island’s roster of countryside conflict.

The story began last September, when Southern Vectis extended its No 11 bus service to include a route along Pixley Hill, a single-lane thoroughfare running down from the main road at Halletts Shute, towards Freshwater.

The combined widths of a bus and a car (more than 14ft) are more than the width of several stretches of Pixley Hill (at one point only 12ft 8in). Result — tremendous hoo-ha.

Buses cannot reverse easily, so other vehicles have to back, precariously and often on to the main road.

Verges have been churned up. Rage and altercations abound. There have been prangs. Horseriders and walkers have stopped using the road. Residents in the area are furious.

A survey produced an incandescent 80 per cent anti-bus majority. A vehement petition, likely to contain 1,000 signatures, is to be thrust at County Hall.

A no-brainer, you would have thought. The council must act in the Battle of Pixley Hill and defeat Southern Vectis.

But the council is playing the Swiss card in the matter. Despite its usual eagerness to pounce on even the slightest transgression on its highways, it says it cannot do anything and all representations have produced merely an airy-fairy neutrality.

So we have the Pixley Hill community versus Southern Vectis.

The residents out there are a fierce and well-organised force. A safe bet, surely, they will win the day, particularly as they appear to be absolutely right. But Southern Vectis has Marc Morgan-Huws, the man with the meandering smile and a fleet of double-decker buses at his disposal.

He has no intention of axing the Pixley Hill route. He may, possibly, deploy smaller buses. Possibly.

He suggests walkers and horseriders get themselves a bus timetable and plan their outings accordingly.

I wouldn’t like to forecast the outcome. But I am hopeful of plenty more drama to come.

Our MP must emulate his predecessor and go berserk in the Commons. I don’t know quite how he’ll include homosexuality and freemasonry on this one but he must try.

Is this why we’re clean out of spare bollards?

THE council has been particularly wet in the Pixley Hill matter but it is, of course, awfully busy.

On the street where I live, a request was made last August for a damaged bollard to be repaired. Several weeks elapsed.

A second request produced the reply that the job would be done “in the next fortnight”. A further two weeks resulted in precisely zilch.

Christmas came. New Year came. Then the bollard disappeared entirely, leaving a small hole in the pavement.

According to the council, this perilous situation (never mind colliding traffic on Pixley Hill) required a rapid response. Sure enough, two men turned up and filled the hole. No bollard, however.

“No bollards available anywhere on the Island,” said the men.

Amazing, but true. The council is clean out of bollards. Possibly since last August.

I think I know what has happened and would like to help the council on this one.

A communication error on its order has clearly resulted in it being sent a load of something that sounds very much like “bollards” but is quite a different commodity.

This would explain why County Hall has no bollards but is heaving with tons of the other stuff. I suggest the next council election as the perfect opportunity to redress the situation.

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