New plan to improve Keynsham's roads
By welland | Thursday, April 08, 2010, 12:53
Keynsham MP Dan Norris has outlined an innovative new scheme that he hopes will improve the state of roads and pavements right across North East Somerset.
Dan Norris with new plan for potholes.
For years Dan has campaigned hard to persuade B&NES Council to properly tackle the potholes and problem pavements that have littered local roads since long before the recent freezing winter that made them worse still.
Under his new scheme, Dan will invite local businesses, big and small, to contribute money towards the repair of a specific pothole that blights the community in which they operate.
The Labour MP has a long record of bringing private businesses together with councils and other organisations to help address community problems. For example, private sponsorship and partnership working has enabled him to:
· Establish popular ‘Battle of the Bands’ competitions to promote local young musical talent
· Set up his ‘Community Champions’ scheme to honour local unsung heroes
· Publish and circulate over half a million copies of his unique free anti-bullying booklet
· Provide schemes giving cheaper bus fares to residents of Saltford and Keynsham
The inspiration for his latest partnership project came from Niederzimmer, Germany. Authorities there recently began a new scheme under which residents are invited to contribute 50 euros to help pay for pothole patching work, in return for a small ingot bearing their name that is then inlaid to the patch.
Dan’s scheme will take it further, with corporate sponsorship of hundreds of local potholes available at highly attractive rates in a way that will help businesses reach customers in a unique way.
He explained: “People I represent right across North East Somerset are well used to seeing white paint sprayed on the ground around potholes supposedly earmarked for repair. The Council usually leaves the paint there for ages, while the hole lies unrepaired and getting worse.
“It’s time to take this a step further, and exploit corporate opportunities by inviting businesses to buy a ‘Gold Sponsorship Package’. This will entitle them to have their company logo painted around the hole, rather than white paint. In B&NES the logo would stay on the road for years and years – providing an ongoing reminder of the company’s generosity, rather than the Council’s inability to get basic things done.
“But I want to go further still,” added Dan. “Buying a ‘Premium Sponsorship Package’ would allow companies to have a small hoarding erected on the road itself, across the pothole. Hoardings will be no more than one metre high, right at the eyeline of motorists, making the company’s message hard to miss – and innovatively concealing the unsightly pothole to boot.”
He dismissed fears the mini-hoardings might create new problems: “People using North East Somerset roads are well-used to having to steer around potholes to prevent damage to their cars and bicycles. The only difference will be that now it will be hoardings they’re manoeuvring to avoid, rather than the defects themselves. The presence of the mini-hoarding will help drivers avoid potholes as they will be able to see their position well in advance, acting as a safety aid.”
He went on to address concerns that the mini-hoardings, dubbed Top-Holes, could lead to tensions between sponsors and the Council, since the longer the pothole remains unmended, the longer the hoarding stays visible, promoting the company.
“B&NES will see this as win-win,” he said. “Not only will they unusually be getting pressure NOT to repair potholes. They will also be attracting extra revenue at the same time. B&NES bosses will love this scheme. It’s money for nothing - a concept very familiar to local council taxpayers.
"It will make even more cash available to senior councillors to enjoy jollies to China, and to pay to do up theatres - and any other places they have private interests in.
“I’ve already had enquiries from firms interested in bagging the best holes. St Ladoc Road, Keynsham, promises to be a highly lucrative site, for example, as does Greyfield Road, High Littleton.”
“A highly competitive tariff is available on request. The scheme will be a real boon for any firm needing to get its message out there in our local North East Somerset communities,” he said. “Book early,” he added, with fixed smile and raised thumb.
Dan said he has yet to air the idea with the Council, but when he does so he expects it will first be passed to their £340,000 a year press office operation to see if there is anything they can bagsy the credit for.