Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Road Rage

Road Rage
Art Bypass, Newbury. Photo: Philip Wolmuth.

Highways Agency Yobbo

Squall 14, Autumn 1996, pg. 54.

RED-FACED bosses of the Government’s road-building Highways Agency are still apologising for the “insulting” letter-writing of one of their petty officials on the controversial M11 Link Road in East London in response to questions about the scheme.

A series of letters of regret have been trickling out from the Highways Agency offices in London and Birmingham for months now. At one time, the Agency’s £100,000-a-year boss, Lawrie Haynes, even expressed his own reservations about the letter-writing style of Mr RO (Bob) Brazier, Link Road ‘liaison engineer’ at Wanstead.

But to residents’ surprise, Brazier - an early retiree from Hackney Council where he ran the borough’s sewers - keeps his job. More surprisingly, so far he has offered no apology of his own to residents upset by his in-your-face style for dealing with persistent questioners. Nor, apparently, do his bosses expect him to.

Yet, 20 years ago, Brazier was leading the fight against the M11 Link Road when a now-discarded early route threatened to destroy the part of Wanstead in which he has lived in semi-

detached splendour for more than 30 years.

But today, he has a five-year contract to promote the road he fought - through another part of Wanstead. For this, he is said to get at least £20,000 a year, plus a secretary, a company car, and expenses.

Residents can’t understand why he hasn’t been sacked. Three senior Agency officials have all apologised in writing for his “insults”, which included unsupported political smears and an outrageous allegation that one Link-sceptical resident suffered “warped perceptions” about the very road Brazier once so fiercely opposed.

Residents are also outraged about the cost of Braziers’s operations on the Link Road. His direct employers, the WS Atkins engineering firm - “the Tory Party’s favourite builders” - have set up two Link Road ‘Information Centres’ on the 3.5-mile route. They cost, according to a Commons answer to Leyton’s Labour MP, Harry Cohen, £200,000 a year!

About six months ago, the Highways Agency had to halt two stages of the £340 million Link Road... because they had run out of money.


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