VOTE: Keith Rossiter asks if Council Tax should go up five per cent to fix our roads
MY OLD mate Pothole Pete won't thank me for this. Mind you, it's hard to sympathise with such a notorious womaniser.
One day Pete floats into The Herald offices hand in hand with Penny, one of our photographers. Another day he's arm in arm with Lucy (pictured).
Meanwhile, down in the city centre Pete the Cad is oozing charm like spreadable butter, causing cardiac palpitations for council press officer Tammy Baines.
Pete's fame is built on misery – yours and mine, quick to home in on where hapless motorists have come to grief in one of Plymouth's minefield of potholes.
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Plymouth's roads are becoming more Third World by the month. Embark on a journey and you have to factor in the cost of repairing your car and its tyres.
I'm told that a fully resurfaced road will last something like 15 years, compared with the average of just 18 months for one where a pothole has been merely patched. Some Herald readers have reported patches that didn't even last a fraction of that time.
One of the problems with a democracy is that politicians have to face the electorate every four years, which leads to short-termism in decision-making. No sensible politician would contemplate borrowing around £50million to resurface Plymouth's rickety roads and pavements. It would be a ten-year project at £5million a year, well beyond the life of a council administration.
Even less would such a politician consider raising council tax specifically to pay for the work: they would be out on their ear, even though the entire city would be better off.
It would be crazy to raise council tax by, say, five per cent, which is what it would take, wouldn't it? Adding around £2 a week on a Band D council tax would be political suicide ... a whopping 30p a day for smooth roads.
Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, has said that any local authority wishing to raise council tax by more than two per cent will have to hold a referendum. This is a heaven-sent chance to put the decision in the gift of the public.
Two years of biting cold and one of relentless rain on top of generations of neglect have left the roads in a terrible state, and the Government is never going to stump up for the sort of root and branch work we need.
We like to fantasise about the British Blitz spirit, all mucking in together when the going gets rough. Well, the going has got decidedly rough on most of Plymouth's roads.
It's time for the council to ask the people what they want done about it. Whatever the decision, voters will have to live with it.
On the upside, you'd probably save all that extra tax in a year by reducing the damage to your car.
And let's say that £3million of that £5million, at a conservative estimate, would go on wages, that would be a couple of hundred jobs created, each of those people spending their cash in the local economy.
What do you think: Vote yes or no on our website, thisisplymouth.co.uk.
THE council's head of communications, Richard Longford, told a scrutiny panel that traditional media matter less now than they used to. It's true that fewer people read old-fashioned newspapers, and that social media like Twitter are making inroads.
The council might be happy to spread its message in new ways, but in a survey fewer than one in five admitted to accessing council services online.
It's way too early to write the obituary for traditional media, even if we are working in new ways.
The News of the World phone-hacking scandal has driven the reputation of journalists lower than ever. But do you hate doctors because of Harold Shipman's murders? Do you avoid Derriford because of the 2009 Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals trust scandal? Slam the door on the cops because some of them illegally sold information to the Press?
I'm sure you are intelligent enough to realise that one bad apple doesn't spoil the barrel – so long as it's removed quickly.
And that's where the traditional media, with all our flaws, come in. We are not paid by the council, the NHS or the police – we are paid by you the reader/viewer/listener.
Labour thinks I'm a Tory stooge; the Conservatives call me a Socialist; UKIP almost certainly has me on its up-against-the-wall, bullet-in-the-brain list should they seize power. Good. I'm not here to make friends, but to poke and prod on your behalf.
The end of traditional media? Get ready for the end of democracy the day that happens.
ASTONISHING story from the police this week. They stopped a man watching a YouTube video on his mobile while driving on the A38. Hope it was worth three points.