A loud scream prompted me to rush into the street to find a dazed pedestrian lying on the pavement, clutching his forehead. Underneath his hand was a rapidly swelling bruise. He was a victim of Essex Highways clutter that plagues Stansted’s roads – in this case, one of the many wonky poles that serve no purpose. He had collided with the wonky post at the entrance of Spencer Close – a post with no sign that has sat there for over a decade, but is just one of many pointless abandoned signage in the village.
The scale of the problem has slowly increased over the years with temporary signs bent out of shape as they are decommissioned, but not taken away – such as the bent “new road layout ahead” sign in Chapel Hill, facing the wrong way.
The main thoroughfares have the worst problem. Bent bits of metal covered with black and yellow tape and surrounded with unsightly blue plastic fences are prominent in Lower Street, which serves as the village’s centre of retail activity.
The painfully slow creation of the zebra crossing – a project that has taken years – and the Stansted Social Club scaffolding are adding to the obstacles that residents have to dance around while attempting to observe social distancing. Stansted looks less like a rural Essex village and more like the scene of a civil war, as if everything was bent out of shape by bomb blasts.
Moving to the village’s periphery, we have traffic calming measures which appear to have been invented by someone who has never driven a car. The chicanes that ruin Church Road are supposed to “calm” traffic, but instead they create frustrating traffic jams that drivers attempt to avoid by speeding through them – with the result of some dangerous near head-on collisions. Cyclists feel unsafe negotiating the “calming” measures and at times of heavy rain water builds up around the chicanes, creating pedestrian-drenching puddles.
At Pines Hill travelling into the village from the south, drivers speed through mouldering green 30mph signs, hidden by foliage. Two hundred metres on they are greeted with blaring lit-up signs that flash with almost every car entering the village – simply because the first set of speed limit signs are covered in algae and cannot be seen. Drivers are warned of speed limit cameras, but these were removed more than a decade ago – the fake warning signs just add to the street clutter.
The clutter of dirty, bent or pointless street signs and sign-less poles makes our village look neglected and chaotic. The King’s Arms has undergone a massive renovation, yet outside its doors are a chaotic collection of poles and barriers.
Entering the village from the north, drivers see Bloor Homes’ recreation of a World War One battlezone with dead trees and pits of shallow water. From the east there are chicanes that would not be out of place in a Mad Max-themed Formula One. And from the south, the green rusty signs make visitors feel they are entering the set of 28 Days Later.
Essex Highways should get a grip. Employ a couple of guys with an angle-grinder to remove all the pointless poles and clean up the signs – just a day’s work. Surely austerity cannot be an excuse for failing to deal with this backlog.