From Brian Wills, Carisbrooke:

I recall a time when the Council had the services of a full-time Borough Engineer; you could always see his name and qualifications written on the side of every dustcart. I assume that he had overall responsibility for all engineering matters, such as roads, street cleaning, refuse collection, the floating bridge, in fact all of the services that regularly hit the local headlines today. I also assume that there is no such position exists nowadays; for if it did, there would surely be regular cries for the occupant to resign.

This was brought to mind by this week's report, that the footpaths around Carisbrooke schools are to be closed for 2 weeks, because they have become swamps, and are to be resurfaced. A solution which I fear may be tackling the apparent symptoms, but not the cause.

Prior to the Autumn, I do not recall any need for resurfacing having been identified and the problem is that the entire length of these paths lies within wooded areas, whilst no attempt whatsoever is made to clear them of fallen leaves! This is a job that could be done by one man, in a few hours, with a leaf blower, and had it been tackled a couple of months ago, before heavy rain and footfall turned leaves into a muddy slush, would have eliminated the problem.

It seems quite likely that when cleared away, the underlying surface will be found to be perfectly sound, although water retained by the leaves will not have improved matters. Either way, if fallen leaves are left to rot next year, they will once again turn into another quagmire, albeit with a beautiful surface hidden beneath!

I always felt that the presence of a Borough Engineer, somehow injected an element of timely preventative maintenance, accountability and even common sense into Council responsibilities, but that all seems oh so long ago... in a different time... in a different world!