Friday 2 September 2011

Taking To The Road

Yesterday, we spent many hours out in the sunshine. The trouble was it was on our local motorway which had been closed due to a bad accident with serious injuries. There is a stretch that is notoriously risky which has more shunts than an old BR marshalling yard. Clunk click every trip almost, but not the seat belts, the cars.

Quite a few pulled over onto the hard shoulder, to nap, have lunch or in some cases pick blackberries over the fence. Personally, we would not care to eat soft fruit that had grown next to one of the busiest motorway stretches but we have always been fussy eaters.

It gave me ample time to watch the traffic on the other carriageway and to look around. There were a lot of heavy vehicles about. What was striking was how many were from Eastern Europe and the The Balkans. The proportion has been increasingly over the last decade and is now high.

There are others from European destinations but their numbers have dropped slightly although there are still many Spanish food wagons. The numbers that have dropped substantially are the UK and Irish ones. One of our local international truck companies has now just closed as have others recently.

Sightings of Scots vehicles are quite rare apart from Eddie Stobart, but this company now has a European base. There are few Welsh and from many parts of England hardly any, notably the old industrial areas, although Norfolk Line has a few.

One complication is how the container ships are now directed. These may have changed patterns but it is uncertain. One thing that is certain is that the freight is not going by rail. If anything rail freight seems to be down as well.

What does this tell us about the real Balance of Trade? If this small sample which may not be typical and have its own distortions is any guide then it is not looking good for the future. If we have a declining balance in real terms then this will impact on other sectors.

If it means we are now more beholden to the old “invisibles” then this is not good news given what globalisation has given us in recent years. BBC4 ran a repeat of its history of container shipping to remind us of how changed it all is.

What is tragic is that during the 1960’s and 1970’s the UK and especially the Civil Service and governments simply did not register what was beginning to happen. It was not until the 1980’s that realisation happened and little of this was due to Mrs. Thatcher or for that matter Mr. Callaghan. They had been presented with change on a scale they could not have imagined.

It is my personal feeling that we are seeing some kind of change of this order now taking place under our noses and there are no UK politicians or civil servants who either recognise or understand what is happening and will happen regardless of all their policies and programmes.

Is there honey still for tea?


  1. "no UK politicians or civil servants who either recognise or understand what is happening"

    A good start would be to acknowledge the fact instead of trying to micromanage every aspect of our lives as if they do know.

  2. "Quite a few pulled over onto the hard shoulder...", er, doesn't that block emergency vehicle access (apart from being illegal if not for genuine breakdown reasons)?
    I've noticed this mis-use is becoming common nowadays (and hope the perpetrators will suffer an accident of their own without help arriving).