ALAN CASTLE: It’s a hole lot different today

Filling in potholes near Longhorsley.
Filling in potholes near Longhorsley.

The world has changed immeasurably in the more years than I care to remember since the Castle fingers first bashed away at a typewriter to produce this column.

They were the days when social media meant sharing your Gazette with a mate down the club and a smart phone was a fancy new push button affair you could fix to the wall.

But there are some things which remain a constant in the life of this newspaper, topics which never go away.

Take the roads, for instance.

If you collected all the reams of paper the Gazette has devoted to reporting concerns about potholes over the years, you could probably fill in a huge chunk of them.

The subject raised its ugly head again this week after a survey named Northumberland County Council as the most improved in the country for its highways and transportation services, and the most improved for both roads maintenance and the condition of its roads.

The result of the National Highways and Transportation Network public satisfaction survey sparked disbelief in some quarters, with people decrying it as an early April Fool, quick to hit out at what they see as a second-rate service.

But the survey is not saying the county is the best, nor that we have the best roads in Britain – merely that the council is the most improved out of 78 highways authorities in England and Scotland.

Remember, half of nothing is still nothing.

And let’s be fair, things have improved, thanks to the hard work of those trying their best with an extensive network of rural roads.

Of course we all hate driving along a route where we have to run the gauntlet of potholes, fearful of the damage they can cause to our cars, not to mention our aching bones.

But there’s no quick fix, particularly in this age of cuts, cuts and more cuts.

The Gazette will continue to highlight atrocious roads in our patch, just as we always have done.

But just for now, let’s be thankful that we seem to be making progress.

Don’t forget, the 3,500 households in the area who were questioned for the survey are inclined to agree.