Monday, October 29, 2007

Text your feedback .

I have noticed some signs on the windows of coaches operated by a nationwide company. The signs declare "Text your feedback ... with your comments about Driver, Comfort, Other, to 07786 200 496".

There seems to be a culture developing in this country about citizens becoming roving reporters being urged to phone or text a special number. This trend is developing in a vast range of services and the above is just an example of this growing trend. It seems as though the providers of these services are not going out into the field to monitor their performance but wish to get the public to do this task for them. Rather than pay for quality control or investigation they are getting the public to do it for free. However, the data provided by these special telephone numbers is unrepresentative of the service actually provided to the public. It is simply a snitchers charter where the caller can air their gripes.

This telephone approach is far better than the old alternative to budget quality control where users are urged to complete a paper questionnaire that claims "Everyone is unique... so tell us what you think". These questionnaires try to obtain the users name and address, nationality, marital status, date of birth, householder status and years at that address - the very items users should never give because of the growing risk of identity fraud in our country. These questionnaires are generally discarded onto the floor increasing the litter problem in our daily lives. It is rather silly that some managers are complaining about a lack of response to these paper questionnaires when users can so easily text their feedback, a far easier exercise without any privacy risks.

The naive would think that these telephone numbers would encourage praise and positive feedback from users but their main purpose is to collate all the negative comments so that a witch hunt can start. Happy Hallowe'en everyone, get those league tables ready.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Do you remember the Cyndi Lauper song that went Oh, girls, Just wanna have fun. well the above video clip reminds me of that song . This video illustrates that girls everywhere just want to have fun. Do not be fooled by their clothing because underneath these girls just want to have fun. When you think of the rising tensions between America and Iran this video makes you wonder. Whether it is Shiite girls in Iran having fun or school girls in Bradford having fun, they are all someone's daughters.

...The phone rings in the middle of the night,
My father yells "What you gonna do with your life?"
You know you're still number one,
But girls,
They wanna have fu-un,
Oh,girls,just wanna have
That's all they really want.....
Some fun....

When the working day is done,
They wanna have fu-un,
Just wanna have fun....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

5 reasons why social bookmarking doesn't work .

Social networking websites are all the rage at the moment. I am not a fan and I will continue to be a traditional blogger. For time to time I do have a glance at to see what these sociable people think is hot on the web at the moment. The above link is a blog by Philipp Keller and he writes about all that is wrong with social bookmarking.

I have read his 5 reasons why social bookmarking does not work and I agree with him 100 per cent. You cannot beat using a search engine properly - you will get your results so much quicker. I use Livesearch from All The Web and it is simply a great tool. The way your search criteria expands is magic and is very intuitive to use. These targetted results come thick and fast. The best search engine for blogs however has to be Technorati , the others do not even come close.

I think social bookmarking is just a phase that some internet users are going through and eventually they will see the light and learn how to use search engines properly.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Spooks versus Whistle Blowers

I have watched both drama programmes on television and they are in the same genre. Spooks is brilliant and this new series is as good as the last. Spooks makes for exciting television with plenty of detail to interest the viewer. The stories are very believable, politically upbeat and have a dark humour. The plots are very well researched and are fast moving. In it's genre Spooks is hard to beat.

Whistle Blowers is a huge disappointment with a shallow script. The viewer quickly gets bored with the simple plot lines. Whistle Blowers simply does not entertain and is a programme to avoid. I watched 2 episodes of Whistle Blowers and the programme does not get any better. I will not waste any more of my time watching this cheap rubbish.

Spooks fires my imagination and is a joy to watch. In this contest Spooks is the out and out winner. I doubt if ITV will recommission Whistle Blowers, even for the easy to please American market. The BBC however have struck gold with Spooks and I expect our politicians cringe with every episode.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

'We were showered with flesh'

Click the link above and read the eye witness account of Victoria Schofield who had been dozing on the upper deck of Benazir Bhutto's open-air bus when a suicide bomber killed 139 people in his attack.

...My first thought was that it had been an unusually large firework. But Benazir's cousin, just beside me, said: "No, that was a bomb." Our instinct was to get out of the vehicle but in the darkness another voice urged: "Wait, there could be another explosion." Within the same breath, as we lay huddled together, another, more deafening blast shook the bus and we were showered with what felt like heavy rose petals. Then I realised the chilling truth: they were flakes of human flesh.

Some 139 people among the crowd had been killed, it emerged over the next few hours. The bus was armour-plated but its left side was dented and a fire was raging.

...I have read the reports in the newspapers and I am shocked about what has happened. Benazir Bhutto was warned about suicide attacks on her yet she ignored these warnings and went along with her campaign. She is a very silly woman and has ignored common sense. She was living safely in exile due to her previous political life in Pakistan yet she would not leave alone. She has poked her nose in and 139 lives have been lost. She should have left Pakistan to sort out it's own problems with security and democracy. Change can only happen when the general population mass for change from the grass roots. A disgraced figurehead should not lead the movement for change - it has to come from fresh faces. There are big problems in Pakistan but it is for the working people to encourage and vote for change.

Thankfully we do not have these terrorist threats in the UK and although our population is apathetic and cannot be bothered to vote, buses do not get blown apart in our cities. The London bombings of 7th July was an attack on our country - it was not a targetted attack against one particular politician. You have to go back a long time to the Brighton bombing of 1984 to form a parallel with the attack in Karachi. I like to think that Britain and Pakistan are worlds apart but maybe this is just an illusion. This will explain why Tony Blair and other ex government ministers like David Blunkett receive life long security protection.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

BBC website hit in newsroom cost cuts.

The BBC News website will be one of the casualties of the corporation cuts at it strives to save £2billion, sources have claimed. They said the website will be updated less frequently and carry fewer stories as a result of budgets being slashed.

...This is awful, the BBC News website is a lovely resource for the public to use. It is updated very frequently, gets reports online just as they are breaking and provides a very wide scope of stories. The website reports the many smaller stories that drop under the radar of the national newspaper press. If the BBC cuts back this website then the public will be left in the dark over many things they should be aware of. We also know that our government and many large companies would rather the public not know what is really happening every day in our country.

All the public can do is to sign the petition on the government website at No 10. This petition runs until the 8th June 2008 and only 14 people have signed it so far. I have added my signature to this petition and I hope that many more members of the public do so. I hope we do not become a nation enshrined in apathy and kept in the dark.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Satanic Verses

Following my post of 11th July 2007 I decided to find out what all the fuss over The Satanic Verses was about. Much has been written about the offence taken by Muslims to this book written by Salman Rushdie. Buying a copy of this book for £7.99 from W H Smith made me feel like a teenager trying to buy a pornographic magazine. The book has such a reputation that the customer feels as though he is buying something naughty, that should be behind the counter and he may not be allowed the purchase.

I read this novel with an open mind. I think Salman Rushdie is a wonderful author who tells a great story. His writing stretches the vocabulary of the reader. Salman tells a full story, nothing is brief or shallow. The reader gets a full bright picture in his mind as the story develops. There is a lot of humour in this book and there are no boring bits to wade through. His writing is adult, this is not a children's book.

A lot of media today is dumbing down to the lowest level. There are writers however who raise the game and this is very welcome. As a newspaper columnist I admire Yasmin Alibhai-Brown because her vocabulary and level of detail stretches the reader to fully understand the issues. Salman Rushdie writes in a similar fashion.

I enjoyed reading The Satanic Verses, I was not offended in any way. I think it is a very good novel and I can understand why some Muslims may dislike some of the story. Nothing in this book shocked me and nothing was vulgar or gratuitous. I think it is wrong that some Muslims objected to this book, it is simply a harmless novel and is not an attack on Islam.

If Muslims stumble across this blog then I will ask them to think for themselves rather than be brainwashed by fellow Muslims at their local mosque. There is a lot of humour in this book and I am sure that Muslims can in private laugh at aspects of other religions. There is something funny about everyone on this planet and it would be very sad indeed if you cannot laugh at yourself. I have no time for people who complain about a book they have not read from cover to cover. Muslims can read this book for themselves and I hope they will appreciate this book for the great piece of work it is.

The £7.99 I paid for The Satanic Verses and the time spent reading it all, made this a very good purchase. You do not need to be a religious scholar or to have had an university education to enjoy this book.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The return of Have I Got News For You.

Have I Got News For You returned on Friday night for its 34th series on BBC1. I like this genre of television programme, current affairs coupled with satire. It is great to watch a programme that pokes an awful lot of fun at the week's news. This is not the only programme on television of this type. On BBC2 there is Mock The Week and on Channel 4 there is 8 Out of 10 Cats.

This genre of programme must not cost a lot of money to produce. The raw content is provided free of charge from existing news media. The panelists then write some comedy about the featured news items. When you consider the comment already on the internet provided free by bloggers everywhere you can see just how easy the show will be to produce. The editing of the programme is a standard television industry routine.

I watched Have I Got News For You on Friday and enjoyed the programme as much as the last series. However I did not think that it was as good as both Mock The Week and 8 Out of 10 Cats. The humour of Mock The Week is the best and sharpest of the three programmes with 8 Out of 10 Cats coming second in my opinion. Mock The Week has raised the bar for this type of programme. The humour is really refreshing and adult. No issue is taboo and the writers are prepared to take risks with what the viewer may call acceptable.

What is strange is that both ITV and Channel Five do not have this cheap to produce genre of programme. They are missing out here and I feel there is room in the market for them both to do one of these comedy programmes. The public like these programmes and I am sure that advertisers will too.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The walk of shame.

Do you remember when you were a child your mother may have instructed you to "Don't show me up" when taking you outside. Any child who played their mother up in public would be warned "wait until I get you home". Times and attitudes have changed, now you see children running around screaming and screeching everywhere. The parents appear to have little or no control over their children. I have blogged before about children in pubs and the chaos they cause. Gail's granddaughter Louise is a noisy ill-disciplined 2 year old who tears around our home when Gail is child minding. Louise is loud, extremely talkative and hard work. It is not an easy day child minding a 2 year old and it is very tiring on adults.

These children do not just terrorise their grandparents homes, shops and pubs. They sometimes use public transport and being under 3 years of age travel for nothing. I saw one mother with a 2 year old child on a coach. The child was very loud, shouting and screeching in child talk. The loud cries from this child went on and on. After 30 minutes the driver stopped in a lay-by and walked to the very back of his full coach. He quietly asked a male passenger if he could swap his seat to the front. The driver then addressed the mother of the 2 year old child that her child was causing him a distraction and could she swap seats with the man. The mother replied that it was OK and that they would move to the back.

The mother then did the walk of shame.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Craig Ramshaw walks away free.

Death crash teenager not guilty.

An 18-year-old has been cleared of killing four friends by dangerous driving days after passing his test. The jury at Cardiff Crown Court did find Craig Ramshaw, of Ebbw Vale, guilty of careless driving and he was given a conditional discharge.

Ramshaw was driving along a mountain road in Powys, at around 2100 GMT on 2 November 2006, when he lost control. Backseat passengers Danielle Caswell, Katie Roberts, both 15, and Louise Jones and Kayleigh Parry, 16, all died.

Ramshaw was also been banned from driving for two years and will have to retake his test. Judge Nicholas Cooke QC told him: "Human life is priceless and I feel it would be interpreted as an insult to the memory of the four girls if I imposed a financial penalty on you."

Patrick Harrington QC, defending, asked the jury if Ramshaw's driving fell below the standard expected of an ordinary competent driver, in which case he said it was careless. Or was it, he asked, "far" below that standard - in which case, it was dangerous. He invited the jury to conclude that days after passing his driving test, Ramshaw had made a minor error - turning the wheel slightly too far on a bend - which had resulted in the deaths and had wrecked the lives of many families. He stressed to the jury that the police driver who had given evidence for the prosecution, had himself conceded that a minor error could have caused the crash.

...Well, well, well, this is a big surprise. I am shocked at the decision of this jury in Cardiff. Ramshaw had lost control of his car and four girls were killed. This was not a careless clipping of the kerb resulting in a bit of tyre or body damage. How can this be a minor error, his car flipped over? This was not a little jolt that resulted in a bit of whiplash to the girls, they were thrown out of the vehicle. We all know that if you go around a bend too quickly that vehicles will flip over. I think his defence barrister only won the day because the police driver who had given evidence for the prosecution, had himself conceded that a minor error could have caused the crash. What I think the police driver meant was that a SIMPLE error could have caused the crash. Because of the subtleties of our language the prosecution lost it's case of causing death by dangerous driving. I do not know why the jury did not consider the bigger picture and find Ramshaw guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. For the judge to award a conditional discharge and no fines against Ramshaw is beyond me. Four human lives were avoidably lost and awarding no fines or punishment values the four girl's lives as nothing more than broken eggs on a supermarket shopping trip. Justice has clearly not been done and Craig Ramshaw has got off free.
Spanish practices at the Royal Mail.

Strange sights on the road today, Royal Mail vehicles and postmen doing delivery rounds. Up to 130,000 Royal Mail workers have gone back to work after their strike action.

I think they were very wrong to come out on strike. They are backing a loser and have sent their industry into a big downturn. They are committing commercial suicide in their ignorance of business and the way our society works. They are very backward in their views and are opposed to any modernisation that could save their jobs. It could only be a matter of time before the management of Royal Mail calls it a day and sacks the striking postmen for breach of contract. These 130,000 postmen can be very quickly replaced, from the growing ranks of our unemployed. There are people in Poland ready and very willing to jump on another coach and do their jobs within days.

Apart from the routine demands over pay and pensions the postmen will not abandon their cherished Spanish work practices which add greatly to their employment costs. These uncooperative working practices means that their actual labour costs far greater than it should and at the end of the day the Royal Mail is not getting what it pays for. Other industries would not allow this amount of slack to take places and this shows that our Royal Mail is still operating in the dark ages - Britain in the 1970's.

These striking postmen are pricing themselves out of a job in two ways. Their strike action makes the Royal Mail revenue insecure and unpredictable. Once the Royal Mail looses a customer they will never get the business back. These Spanish practices cost the Royal Mail dearly and the cost cannot be underwritten. Here is a list of some of the Spanish practices that these striking postmen are happy to see finish their jobs forever. Royal Mail has a list of 12 of the 92 "Spanish practices" which it claims are now at the core of the worst postal strike for nearly two decades:

* Two or three hour minimum daily overtime - so if 30 minutes of actual work is required and completed, then between two and three hours' payment is demanded;

* An additional allowance claimed for using particular vehicles - regardless of whether the individual has actually driven the vehicle;

* Automatic overtime if mail volumes reach a certain level - regardless of how many ordinary working hours remain that day;

* If a delivery round is finished before the end of the paid shift, the employee expects to be able to go straight home. But if it takes 10 minutes longer two to three hours' over time is claimed;

* Set overtime level is claimed at Christmas, even if there is no need for any additional hours and no extra hours are worked;

* An additional two hour payment on Easter Saturday - regardless of whether any work required;

* No flexibility between different parts of the same sorting office - if an employee sorts letters for a particular postcode, they will not sort for the adjacent postcode, even though both activities are often in the same room;

* Signing in and out for a shift on arrival - so that no record of actual hours worked exists;

* Collection drivers expect overtime pay for doing collections outside usual route - even if it is done within usual working hours;

* Overtime to cover for an absent colleague - a full day is claimed, even if only half day needed and worked;

* Ban on any cross functional working, even of similar tasks under the same roof;

* Additional meal and grace breaks as custom and practice

Meanwhile in Poland many are getting ready to come over to the new Royal Polish Mail offering them secure employment at our National Minimum Wage rates. The result of the match Poland 1 - old trade union dogma 0.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sainsbury's ignore British workers in favour of Eastern Europeans.

Sainsbury's in a written submission to a House of Lords inquiry said that it had greatly increased the number of immigrants it employed over the past two years and would likely continue to do so in future. The company, which employs 150,000 people, said it did not specifically recruit migrant workers and looked for the "highest calibre recruit" for any vacancy.

Prof David Blanchflower, who sits on the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, told the peers that immigration had increased "fear of unemployment" in the UK and that increased competition for jobs was likely to "have a downward impact on pay".

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said that 382,000 eastern Europeans had moved to the UK since their countries joined the European Union in 2004.

On Saturday figures from the House of Commons library disclosed that 54 per cent of new jobs in Britain were taken by foreigners between 1997 and 2006.

...This whole saga simply stinks. Sainsbury's are ignoring British workers in favour of Eastern Europeans. This is a scandal. We are being stabbed in the back by these Eastern Europeans who will work for less money than British people and will bend over backwards to do whatever the company wants. The people in charge of Human Resources at Sainsbury's do not care about the British people or the stores customers. At the end of the day they want the cheapest slaves available within their stores. These supermarkets become successful because of the business put their way from British households, now look at how they say thank you to it's loyal customer base. There are British people living here in the UK who are willing and searching for work, yet companies like Sainsbury's are ignoring our unemployed in favour of these Eastern Europeans.

If I was running a company I would recruit my workforce totally from British passport holders. That way I could hold my head up high within the community rather than become a modern day slave trader.

What can the British people do against these back stabbing Human Resources personnel at Sainsbury's? The answer is simple, take your shopping to a company who recruits only British workers. Hit them where it hurts, at the checkouts.

"Sainsbury's - Try something new today". Oh yes, try another supermarket that does not stab the British unemployed in the back. You have a choice where you buy your household purchases, so use it wisely.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Not the women I know.

In his feature article today Alex Bilmes writes...

She affected a blithe lack of concern, but then admitted she reads menus from the bottom up, assessing the damage the pudding might do her and adjusting her choice of starter and main course accordingly.

Actually, it's more likely to be starter or main course. Or better yet, starter as main course. Because come to think of it, I can't actually remember the last time I watched a woman eat a three-course meal. I've occasionally seen them ordered, picked at and chased around, but so seldom finished, so little enjoyed.

...Well, well, well, that is not like the women I know. They love their food and always want a starter, followed by a main course and a pudding. That is why my wife and her friends choose all-inclusive board holidays because they love their food so much. Women will vary but all the women I know want the 3 courses. Even when they are on a healthy eating diet kick they still want the 3 courses. Instead of chips they will choose mountains of salad at the likes of Harvester, where you help yourself to the legendary salad cart. Whenever these women claim to be on a diet they then have their treat day when anything goes. The cake shop to these women is a right of passage.
The irony of it all.

Front page of my newspaper today tells me that disposable income is at its lowest level for a decade, as taxes, housing costs, phone bills and travel expenses eat into salaries. The price of this same newspaper The Daily Telegraph, has increased today by 10p from 70p to 80p. I think that the editor is having a little joke here at the expense of the readers. Still, I would rather pay 80p than have a lesser read of a newspaper and you only get what you pay for as I found the other day when I glanced at a workmate's copy of The Mirror.

More shocking is the report that motorists are being forced to spend as much as £326 on replacement car keys because of increasingly sophisticated alarm systems. It usually costs about £200 to design, make and programme a new key but those used in some new cars cost significantly more, the survey found, as it is no longer a case of cutting a piece of metal to shape. Advanced alarm and immobiliser systems mean Ford Focus owners face paying up to £266 for replacement keys, while Nissan Micra owners would have to spend as much as £326 to get back behind the wheel.

...£326 for a car key. This is for a small hatchback, the only thing Micra is the name. £326 is outrageous - I would never buy a Nissan Micra because of this pricing. What a liability to the car owner, I cannot get over it and it is not my car.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Update: Amrit Lalji a Hindu woman sacked from her job at Heathrow last month for wearing a nose stud as a religious symbol has been reinstated.

Further to my post on 18th September 2007 I was very pleased to read that in the words of Tahir Bhatti, speaking for the union: "GMB is pleased to have been able to assist Mrs Lalji in this matter and welcomes Eurest's decision that she is reinstated in her position immediate and without detriment." Mrs Lalji's employers, Eurest, said her sacking had been a mistake based on a misinterpretation of its own regulations.

Thank goodness common sense has prevailed in this story. A just and happy ending to a situation that should never have occurred.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sex by torchlight.

Four firemen who disturbed an outdoor gay sex session have been reprimanded and heavily fined after they were accused by one of the participants of being homophobic. The firemen shone their torches from their engine into bushes on the Downs - an area of parkland in Bristol said to be popular with people engaging in late-night outdoor sex known as "dogging" - interrupting the four as they were involved in a gay sex act. One of the group later contacted the AIDS charity, the Terrence Higgins Trust, who advised him to make a formal complaint.

That led to the firefighters being suspended while a three month investigation was carried out. Two of them have now been fined up to £1,000; one has been demoted in rank and the other given a written warning. Each of them has also been ordered to attend a two-day equality course. The four, who do not want be named, have been told to attend an equality conference being held in Bristol next week, entitled 'Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals and Transgender Equality in the Fire Service - an absolute taboo?’

...What stupid actions the management of the Fire Service have taken here. Management are supposed to motivate staff and gain respect from their staff and the general public. There was no need to suspend these firefighters. The disciplinary action against the firefighters is a disgrace - they have done nothing wrong or criminal. These firefighters put their lives on the line to save people and were innocently engaged in a little boyish humour whilst returning to their depot. I feel these firefighters have been let down by their management and their trade union. I would not be surprised if these 4 firefighters told their politically correct managers where to stick their job as I am sure these gay men on the Clifton Downs could easily demonstrate. These firefighters should never have faced any disciplinary action or inquiry.

If people wish to engage in sexual activity in a public park then they should accept the risk of becoming an attraction. They may want people to watch or be shocked by their sex games - this may be an extra thrill for them. I have no problem with people having sex in public areas - these are self selecting people and in a free society they should be allowed this basic human activity. What I object to is one of the guys complaining that other people have caught them at it and have shone a little light on the situation. The complainant was happy about the sex taking place so he should be happy with the extra numbers rather than whining on to a charity. The Terrence Higgins Trust, who advised him to make a formal complaint, have done themselves no favours.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Procedures that close roads for hours.

Back to work tomorrow, ready to face whatever our nation's roads can throw at me. Hopefully I will not have the endure another stationary delay of three and a half hours on the M4 motorway like I did on Sunday.

BBC News website shows...

Motorway is closed after accident
The M4 was closed for several hours due to a fatal accident in Wiltshire. The incident happened just after 1500 BST on the westbound carriageway at junction 14 (Hungerford), shutting the motorway to J15 (Swindon East).

Wiltshire Police said a Middlesex family was in a blue BMW which crashed. A baby girl was thrown from the car and flown to hospital but later died.

Westbound traffic between Newbury, Berks, and Swindon, came to a standstill but delays later eased. Police said the BMW had mounted a bank.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald writes...

Baby killed in M4 horror
A baby girl was killed when she was thrown from her parents' car in an accident on the M4 near Swindon yesterday. The child was in the back of the car travelling on the motorway with her family when the dark blue BMW suffered a tyre blow out. The car spun out of control, crashing into the verge on the westbound carriageway near Liddington at about 3.15pm yesterday. The child, from Middlesex, was flung from the vehicle as it rolled on its side and onto the grass bank. The girl's family escaped the crash unharmed, but the baby was pronounced dead on arrival at Bristol's Frenchay hospital.

PC Glenn Powell from Wiltshire Police's Northern Roads Policing unit said: "This was a single vehicle road traffic accident. A blue BMW was travelling westbound on the M4 when they had a rear wheel blow out.

"The vehicle mounted the nearside bank and overturned on the grass verge, throwing a young child from the car and unfortunately she was declared dead on arrival at Frenchay hospital."

Traffic police closed the motorway following the accident while the vehicle was recovered from the road and drivers were told to use alternative routes. Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service sent four fire engines to the scene of the crash to rescue people trapped in vehicles. Another fire engine was sent from Berkshire. A Wiltshire Fire and Rescue spokeswoman said: "We received a call at 3.20pm and were called to reports of persons trapped but did not have to cut anyone out. "Three pumping appliances and an aerial appliance from Swindon were dispatched as well as an appliance from Berkshire. "Vehicles were made safe to make sure they didn't burst into flames."

Jill Wood, site manager at Frenchay Hospital, confirmed a baby girl involved in a collision on the M4 was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Maidenhead Advertiser writes...

A nightmare journey lay ahead for motorists heading away from Maidenhead on the M4 yesterday afternoon. Traffic began piling up after the motorway was closed for several hours due to a fatal accident in Wiltshire and people were stuck for up to four hours.

The incident happened just after 3pm on the westbound carriageway at junction 14 (Hungerford), shutting the motorway to J15 (Swindon East).

Mark Long, 26, who was travelling from Cox Green to Cornwall, said: "It was quite possibly the worst journey to Cornwall I have ever had in my life."
He was stuck near junction 13 for four hours and added: "There wasn't any information and nobody knew what was going on. Then it got dangerous because people started getting out of their cars and motorbikes were flying up in between the lanes."

Thames Valley police were called out and closed junctions 13 and 14 and began diverting people off the motorway to try and ease the build-up of traffic.

Spokesman Sue Mahoney said: "There were huge jams all the way back to our area. Traffic was turning round, reversing, going the wrong way on the motorway. They were stuck there for hours and people were losing their tempers.
"The matrix information signs weren't working and about 100 people got out of their cars and started walking along the hard shoulder. It was general chaos."

Wiltshire Police said a Middlesex family was in a blue BMW which crashed into a bank. A baby girl was thrown from the car and flown to hospital but later died.

The Daily Telegraph prints a reader's letter today...

Sir - I was stuck in motionless traffic on the M4 recently and realised there had been an accident. The radio told us that the air ambulance had taken the victims to hospital and that some investigations needed to be carried out. Yet what about the welfare of the people who were left stationary between junctions 14 and 15 for four hours until dark?

People were walking up and down the carriageway between the cars and on the hard shoulder, many exercising themselves, dogs and small children. There was always the risk from traffic in the opposite direction but it was not reasonable to expect us to stay cooped up in our vehicles when we had no idea for how long.

I particularly felt for those with children, and the elderly. There was no refreshment for anyone except what some happened to have with them. Most had at some time climbed over fences seeking privacy to relieve themselves, risking injury in the process. If it had been a hot day many could have collapsed from dehydration.

Surely there should be some rule that considers the welfare of those in the queue and enough space cleared to take the traffic round the accident and/or off the motorway, albeit slowly, no matter how bad it is?

The radio kept giving advice to people who had not yet reached the scene but that was no good to us. The police were very slow to stop traffic joining the queue or to take it off at the previous junctions. The process should be speedy enough to close the motorway at preceding junctions so that only the traffic exactly between the junctions affected should be there, waiting to be dealt with. The radio reported that the queue went back to at least junction 13. How did that happen?

Obviously the accident victims must receive the attention they need first. However, other people's welfare should afterwards be given priority over the investigation. My husband and I were on a fairly short journey and had not stocked up for a siege. I shall remember water in future, but why is the scene of the accident more important than the rest of us? Is the process of law more important than humans?

Apart from a skid mark there was no sign of the accident. We had imagined a pile-up that couldn't be cleared easily. Why was one lane not cleared? The traffic going east was still hardly moving – although why was a mystery.

I have heard of other such occasions when one accident shuts the motorway for hours. What is the police policy?

Rosemary J. Wells, Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire

...So now I will add my view to this incident.

I was stuck stationary on the M4 westbound just past junction 13 for three and a half hours. The traffic started moving again at 21.15 which means that Wiltshire Police had closed the M4 motorway for a staggering 6 hours due to a single vehicle accident. The gantry sign just before junction 13 declared "Junction 15 - 21 miles - 18 minutes" - this was a bare faced lie that encouraged drivers to proceed forward into a stationary motorway car park.

I am disgusted with the attitude and conduct of Wiltshire Police. There was no need to close this motorway for 6 hours. The Police appear nowadays to close roads at the drop of a hat. There was no problem with the road surface and no obstruction of the carriageway as the offending car was parked on the grass embankment. Even if some of the carriageway was blocked traffic could have driven around the obstruction before it was removed by recovery operators.

Crimes can still be investigated but roads do not have to be closed. I think our Parliament should enact legislation that prevents the Police from closing a road for longer than 30 minutes maximum without the authority of a high court judge.

Wiltshire Police patrol the county that speeding motorists should fear most. In just one year, its top 10 cameras issued 42,417 fixed penalty notices between them, amounting to £2.5 million in fines and some 127,000 penalty points. Each penalty sees drivers fined £60 - plus three penalty points. A 30-mile stretch of the A303 across Salisbury Plain is included four times in the county's top 10 cameras.

Factor in the cost of the travel delays on Sunday - time and the cost of fuel used by idling vehicles - and Wiltshire Police are adding a lot of avoidable extra costs to the British public. The police wonder why they are losing respect from the public, yet the way they close roads and harass drivers sets people strongly against them.

In other countries the police swiftly deal with accidents and traffic moves on. Foreign police forces are not obsessed with preserving a possible crime scene but realise that they are paid to serve and protect the public rather than piss them off at every opportunity.

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