A nice piece here by the Sage of Norwich on the A11 lobby and on Norwich 'Growth Area' housing:
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2008
D J Taylor: 'All roads lead to the A11'
The Bottom Line: Our commentator scours the world of news, entertainment and sport to answer the question: what was that all about? His conclusion we're all being used
* The pageant of vested interests, pundits and ginger-group spokesmen that habitually comes together to promote social or economic change is particularly noticeable at a local level, where the levers of power are more accessible and the policy forums more direct. Here in the Norfolk boondocks, the newspapers have been in a tremendous lather about the long-standing campaign to dual-carriage the A11, the principal conduit between East Anglia and the Home Counties. Politicians have signed up, a hundred businessmen had their names printed in the 'Eastern Daily Press', and the general implication was that anyone not keen on the inevitable "economic benefits" the scheme would bring was a sort of futile half-wit. Doubtless at some point a very remote point, you imagine and at vast public and environmental expense, the A11 will be dualled, but it will not be because anyone asked the local people if they wanted it done.
It is the same with the Norfolk Development Plan, the subtext of whose literature might be interpreted as: we are going to build a lot of houses, but we are obliged to pretend to consult with you first. The houses will be built, of course, for there is no box to tick for those who don't want them.
Just occasionally, the public strikes back. I remember watching the results of the general election of 2001 come through in the two Oldham constituencies and seeing the expression of horror on the face of Michael Meacher MP when it was revealed that 10,000 people had voted for the BNP candidates. It was a scandal, Meacher declared. The real scandal was that 10,000 people had so little confidence in the democratic system that they ended up voting for some fascist goblin.
But the expression of a genuinely popular opinion whether from electors, football fans or American taxpayers tends to scare those in authority stiff, to the point where you begin to question how the authority came to be there in the first place, and how it might be taken away.