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Traffic jams will be death of town

PUBLISHED: 11:34 05 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:56 06 July 2010

LAST Friday morning I had an appointment in Lowestoft town centre.

It was a gloriously sunny day, the end of half term, so I left plenty of time for seaside traffic and even more for the infamous Lowestoft jam delays.

LAST Friday morning I had an appointment in Lowestoft town centre.

It was a gloriously sunny day, the end of half term, so I left plenty of time for seaside traffic and even more for the infamous Lowestoft jam delays.

I was still 30 minutes late for my appointment.

For 45 minutes I sat virtually stationery on Denmark Road, inching forward every 10 minutes. Nothing budged. Fuming drivers turned round when they could. Still no one moved. Good job it was just a haircut not life-saving surgery.

Eventually I nipped up a side road, abandoned plans to park at the station and headed north to a car park a long walk from my appointment.

I wasn't the only person made late that day because of yet another inexplicable jam in the town now renowned as a gridlock nightmare across the Eastern Counties.

A town to be avoided. Like a leper on the map. Approach at your peril.

At the weekend I discovered two families who headed for Lowestoft's South Beach from Acle. The Acle Straight was a dream, navigating the Breydon Bridge and Gorleston bypass a doddle, then they hit the notorious Lowestoft jams.

After creeping just a few feet in nearly an hour stuck in a sweltering car, they gave up, turned round and headed for - guess where? - Great Yarmouth. And they had a fabulous time.

“We'll never go to Lowestoft again,” the mother said. “We gave it the benefit of the doubt after all the traffic problems in the past few years when we were stuck for ages then but nothing had changed.”

So they spent their money and goodwill in Great Yarmouth. And will do again when the sun shines.

Another friend berated me at my son's football tournament at the weekend.

“We went to Lowestoft beach on your recommendation, got stuck in terrible traffic and ended up turning round and going to Gorleston beach instead.”

So they never got to sample the fine sands of the South Beach and are unlikely to.

I lamely suggested travelling via Oulton Broad as an alternative but Lowestoft had had its chips in their beach plans. There were other beaches, easier to reach.

The receptionist for the hairdresser I've used for 27 years seemed surprised I'd even bothered to ring to apologise for my late arrival.

“Thanks for letting us know. We're used to it.” I think she meant resigned.

How many other people are turning round and avoiding Lowestoft like the plague? How many hundreds of thousands of pounds is the town missing out on - spent somewhere else. Great Yarmouth again? - leaving Lowestoft to slowly decay.

Businesses were hit during the road works, shops closed and people stopped visiting. Has anything changed?

Will Lowestoft end up as the ghost town visitors forgot? It feels it already could be.

THE country is sunk in the economic mire, the Parliamentary system as we know it is in meltdown, swiftly we're slipping down the pan, but Gordon Brown finds the time to express his concern for Susan Boyle.

Sympathy for the poor woman, of course, who was so clearly on the edge in Saturday's final - mad as a box of frogs but that was part of her charm, apparently.

But for the Prime Minister, to find time to voice publicly his concern for a woman warbler whose contribution is to come second in a TV talent contest of not much talent clearly demonstrates he's a desperate man.

I bet he didn't keep the press waiting for that quote either.

What was he thinking? But then they're kindred spirits. She's Scottish and he's teetering on a precipice too.

More than 19 million people watched the Britain's Got Talent final - not many fewer than turned out to vote at the last general election (27 million). Desperate men take desperate measures in desperate times.

You can almost hear his brain cogs. “If I show I'm Man of the People, they might like me and vote for us.”

Durr. Brown watching television as the nation collapses is not what we need to hear? Fiddling while Rome burns.

Susan Boyle is fine - she's got miracle worker Simon Cowell. But not even he could help Brown now.

So, for Pete's sake, stop dallying with dumbing down and sort out the blinking country.

OUT comes the sun and people take leave of their senses.

Hotter than Istanbul and Hong Kong, so out came the lily-white flesh.

On Monday they paid the price. Workplaces teemed with discomfort as lobster red workers brought their sunburn to work, gingerly creeping round, wincing with every move.

Productivity plummeted and many a livid shoulder was slapped in japes.

Skin cancer, sunburn, and sun cream - all futile warnings in years of multi-million pound campaigns to stay safe in the sun.

Health education. A total waste of public money. Teenage pregnancies. I rest my case.

Then on the Wirral, a five-year-old and his four-year-old brother had to be rescued after being tapped on a sandbank after their mother left them alone by the water to go shopping a mile away.

Tiny children alone by the water as mum goes shopping. Says it all. But it wasn't her fault, of course. She was highly affronted to be ticked off, said lifeguards.

And we're in for a hot summer. Brains in meltdown then. Lord knows where we'll be come September.

A MEDIC friend has been warning we haven't even seen the start of swine flu.

A pandemic will hit in the autumn when temperatures drop and the vulnerable are hit, she's been propheting us as we've scoured the internet for stocks of Tamiflu.

Her warning was confirmed this week by expert Professor John Oxford.

So, if the hospitals know, the medics know and the experts are going on record why won't vaccines be ready until October or November - which probably means March or April?

And, as if a pandemic isn't bad enough, there probably won't be enough doctors to treat us because the new Euro rules limiting doctors' working hours come in on August 1, predicted to be a “catastrophe” for patient health.

So along comes a pandemic weeks after doctors are ordered to work no more than a 48-hour week which, warns the president of the Royal College of Surgeons, will lead to wards and even hospitals closing because of a shortage of staff.

We're all doomed.

SO Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall is a secret eBay fiend.

Now we know where all those hideous gifts from heads of state and Royal visitors to Prince Charles are ending up - on the mantelpiece of Mabel in Marlborough and display cabinets of Doris in Dover.

Recycling Royalty. Fabulous.

And now we can understand why Camilla's royal duties are few and far between - she can't leave the house because auctions are pending.

FERN Britton was once an icon for the normal woman.

Happy to be chunky, a bit daffy and an all round honest good egg.

Then her incredible weight loss was rumbled. It wasn't down to mere cycling and a healthy diet. Gastricband Gate cracked Ms Britton's “Just like you” façade.

Now she obviously doesn't care what the rest of the female race think of her.

After earning an annual packet doing a dream job she is packing it in - because she can afford to.

In an interview she gushes: "What makes me happy is being in my home, feeding my pigs and hens, picking the kids up from school or just sitting in the garden."

She added: "My plans are to create a vegetable garden, play the piano more, paint, cycle, learn to speak Italian and follow other dreams too.

"I want to be mistress of my home and cook wholesome food for the children while smiling instead of being tired all the time.”

Don't we all love. But for most of us it's not an option.

We're resigned to settling for being knackered all the time, a drudge in our own home, grimacing through the exhaustion and doing wonders with sausages.

CAREER politician David Cameron (Eton and Oxford) says his party wants more than just career politicians. He wants Tory MPs to be ordinary people.

I've been trying to figure out the “ordinary” people Mr Cameron and George Osborne (St Paul's and Oxford) come across in their daily lives. Their cleaners? Drivers?

I doubt that the “ordinary people” you and I know would want to be Tory MPs anyway. Just look at the company they would have to keep.

THERE'S another ban our Nanny state must enforce post haste.

If smoking was banned in pubs because it was bad for our health, small children must be banned from TV talent shows for the same reason - particularly the singers. They play havoc with the blood pressure, so irritating they are.

We must be protected from precocious child entertainers of the likes of 10-year-old Hollie Steel on Britain's Got Talent. Who possibly enjoys these acts?

The appeal of the tinny tweeting of a 10-year-old massacring out-of date songs as entertainment is lost on me. Edelweiss aged 10? I ask you.

Her hissy tantrum - she's obviously used to stamping her tiny foot to get her own way, that one - and tearful demands to re-perform after forgetting her words deserved a punishment of early to bed with no supper rather than another chance.

That strop said it all about child entertainers.

Her mother says her “talent” makes her unpopular with other girls. Trust me, it's not her “talent” that alienates her.

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