Thursday, October 18, 2007
18th October, 2007 Victoria Meldrew
This is probably not the time or the place but I am going to turn into a grumpy old woman. Picture this, we live 150 yards down a public footpath with no vehicular access. Every day it's like waking up on Christmas morning - very quiet and peaceful and we don't mind the fact that we have to cart things up and down the track to the car in a wheelbarrow. Until three years ago, when the little bungalow next to us was bought by an amateur developer. Naively we thought that anything he built could only be an improvement on the ramshackle place that was there before but alas, no! The hiatus between the end of the New Forest District Council Planning Department and the start of the New Forest National Park has allowed a monstrously ugly house to be built and built by complete incompetents. They forgot the damp course to begin with, the bricks are wonky and the bottom rooms of the house were under water for well over six months. Working at weekends and sometimes for only three hours at a time, they proceeded to trash the footpath by driving up and down it with a dumper truck, sometimes driven by a child, and for two Christmases in a row, we have been unable to have any guests who are not prepared to wade through mud. And it's not over yet - the arrival of another digger coincided exactly with the first torrential rain of the autumn and now the Comet delivery driver is refusing to deliver anything we have ordered - you know, like the cooker and a washing machine - things that I need to carry on with my normal life. Other delivery companies, such as Amtrak, seem to assume that there will always be a little woman sitting at home waiting for things to arrive. They give no notice of their deliveries, won't leave things unsigned for or deliver them to another designated address or alter their route to get things to you when you are home. Never mind you can always go to their depot to pick it up - it's just a short hop to Blandford after all. It seems to me that once you decide to live outside the rules you can do what you want. The Parish Council, NFDC, National park and Hampshire Highways have no teeth and do nothing to protect the footpath or our right to reasonable access to our property. Also, when your company gets big, customer service is a joke - who cares if a delivery drivers wastes his time going to an address where you've already told them you will be out and then has to go all the way back to the depot with your goods? Still, life is not fair and the quicker the builders finish next door the better so I'm not going to chain myself to their dumper truck. Nor am I going to mount a sit in protest of little women at the Blandford offices of Amtrak.co.uk. Nevertheless, the feeling of impotence, frustration and blimmin' crossness is not ....oh, hang on, there's the door. Amtrak have just delivered my door locks.......!!