Barlow's Beef: Chaos on Cheshire roads


We know that our roads are increasingly congested. We also know the cost to companies when staff are stuck in traffic. Pricing jobs is a nightmare for transport companies when they simply don't know how long any journey will take.

A lengthy road closure can wreck the business of cafes and restaurants reliant on passing trade and cause untold inconvenience for local residents. The added risk of road works to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is clear for all to see.

Carrying out work on or beneath our roads efficiently and quickly is paramount to commerce, commuters and residents. It's a responsibility any developed economy takes seriously. Sadly (for us) Cheshire East accept no such responsibility.

I took the above picture at 4-30 pm on Thursday April 21, which was a beautiful clear cloudless day. This is Buxton Old Road in Macclesfield closed 29 days for repair works of an unspecified nature. Sunset was 8-20 pm giving a further four hours of daylight to push ahead with the work at hand.

There wasn't a single person at work. The entire project was completely abandoned. The welfare of pedestrians, residents and local commerce was of no consequence. No sense of urgency whatsoever.

Who is supposed to be monitoring this major upheaval? While CEC are busy losing reams of our money launching ill-conceived business ventures the basics of running a council are openly neglected.

Look, I do not want to be unfair to our beloved council so here's what we will do. This summer check every road works and road closure in your area in daylight hours. Take a photo and send it to me with the time and level of activity.

Let's see precisely how CEC manage our streets and roads. Maybe the results will surprise us. Perhaps the above is a one-off rather than ongoing neglect.

Either way I promise to publish the findings. Given the enormous consequences to businesses and residents these works need to be monitored and managed. We pay Cheshire East to do just that.

Standing on the sidelines with a litany of excuses isn't good enough. We already know how easily CEC cave in to developers and big business. If they cannot manage our roads there is very little left for them to supervise.

What's going to happen when all the new houses are built and the predicted population explosion kicks in? The cost of allowing utility companies to dig up roads and manage themselves is not borne by them but by local businesses and taxpayers.

Okay, enough said. Let's do our bit. You take the pictures, send them to me and I'll publish the results. If my comments are unfair we shall soon find out.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Pete Taylor
Tuesday 26th April 2016 at 11:35 am
Cheshire East Council contracted out their Highways Maintenance function in 2011.

See here:

"Delivering Value for Money-
A key objective of the contract is deliver Value for Money to Cheshire East Council and, in turn, the tax payer of Cheshire East. By a private sector partner embedding itself in Cheshire East, we bring together the best of both sectors. Ringway Jacobs will deliver value for money by integrating the operations and delivery teams thereby illuminating interfaces and reducing man marking and leveraging the buying power from their wider business combined with rigorous commercial and technical processes.
Processes will be established to encourage all staff to operate in an efficient way. Ringway Jacobs efficiency programme, Value Plus, encourages and rewards staff for generating ideas to identify cashable and non cashable efficiencies in the way we operate to ensure the service can either save money or put the money back into delivering the service."

This is Privatisation in action. No gullies cleared, no white-lines re-painted, no accountability to those paying for the so-called service. Yet all sorts of services are contracted-out; on an almost weekly basis, by CEC. Has any single service shown improvement?
Tuesday 26th April 2016 at 2:13 pm
Just so that everyone knows - it is still possible to get up passed this section to Tegg's Nose and there is a cafe there now which has remained open throughout the Winter months. It is tragic that it should now suffer this - just as people want to get out and about into the countryside. Cheshire East rangers also organise events at Tegg's Nose for adults and for children. Perhaps our new expanded tourist section at Cheshire East should be looking into the situation.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 26th April 2016 at 2:50 pm
I am currently in "discussion" with CE Highways concerning damage that was caused to my car when I hit a crater (not a pothole) on a quiet rural lane at 5 o'clock one cold and dark February morning.

As well as outsourcing the maintenance of roads, they outsource the handling of such affairs to a firm of solicitors.

Judging by my experience to date they (and therefore we) are not getting anything approaching value for money from either arrangement!
Julian Barlow
Tuesday 26th April 2016 at 3:07 pm
I am outsourcing my council tax contributions to a privately owned third party.
Lee Brown
Tuesday 26th April 2016 at 7:10 pm
The state of our roads in CE are appalling, more and more pots holes appearing and it's quite normal to see an area of road works and no men working. It would be better to poor the wasted money CE waste into the pot holes and fill them with 1p's and 2p coins!!!!!!!!!
Jane Middleton
Wednesday 27th April 2016 at 5:18 pm
Re Alan Brough's problem over damage to his car. Some years ago my husband took Cheshire East to Court over two ruined wheels on his car and WON. It was hard going but worth it. Cheshire East were represented by a barrister and brought two highways staff as witnesses. Heaven knows how much it cost Cheshire East to defend the claim in addition to paying for two new wheels for my car. My husband represented himself with an abundance of photographs and a couple of very good witness statements.
Vic Barlow
Wednesday 27th April 2016 at 10:14 pm
"integrating the operations and delivery teams thereby illuminating and reducing man marking and leveraging the buying power from their wider business combined with rigorous commercial and technical processes."

If CEC spent less time inventing this childish gobblydegook and more time delivering results we might actually get things done.
Vic Barlow
Cabinet Member for the Expression of Dissatisfaction by The Populace