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I.4) Scuttleheads

(c) Brighton Argus

In their infinite wisdom the Highways Agency decided that some sculptures of spiders had to be evicted from their temporary place of residence
. Full story. So, I sent them an e-mail…

Dear Sir,

I read in the Littlehampton Gazette that the Highways Agency has acted to remove the 'Scuttlehead' sculptures from the roundabout on the A27 at Arundel in West Sussex, lest they 'disturb children' and 'distract drivers'. I applaud this step to remove distractions from the Queen's highways and write to bring to your attention some further instances requiring your prompt attention and remediation.

a) The Angel of The NorthThis is a distraction to both passengers and drivers for many miles and has the potential to cause distress to young children, who may mistake the sculpture as angel alighting on the hills to wreak vengeance on them for not eating their greens.

b) Birmingham. This aesthetically disturbing conurbations acts as a distraction to several motorways and complex motorway intersections. My children have been know to burst into tears at the very sight of it and as a result are unable to appreciate or enjoy 'Brum' on children's television. To prevent this sort of psychological damage to young minds, I urge the Highways Agency to erect substantial fences to the side of the motorways in this region, painting them with calming views of poplar-strewn Umbria.

c) Stonehenge. Though the A303 may not fall within the remit of the Highways Agency, I am extremely concerned that Stonehenge may distract drivers and passengers alike, and therefore poses a risk to all road users. Given the level of traffic on the A303, I commend to the Highways Agency a remediation scheme by which Stonehenge is either demolished, or is hidden from view by a large quantity of camouflage netting. Demolition would allow the opportunity for a large coach park to be built to accommodate the large number of coaches that appear to favour that part of the country. Indeed, imaginative young children may find Stonehenge particularly disturbing as a metaphor for the decayed state of modern society.

d) Chalk White Horses. As a person whose mother was frightened by a pit-pony, I am unable to utilise many of the trunk roads in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire lest I accidentally catch sight of the large white horses carved into the chalk downland around them. These disturb me and could result in an increased risk to other road users whilst I overcome the distraction. Sighting these artworks from a trunk road reminds me of their ethnically discriminatory nomenclature - a strong disturbance indeed.

e) Ikea. I urge your assistance in the screening of these outlets from major trunk roads. Though nominally benevolent, these retail centres represent a hazard to drivers for some miles. They are often marked by tall signage that can fleetingly be seen by passengers: shouts of "Ikea!!" from a female passenger are most distracting and disturbing to a driver, as are the wails of protestation from any children present in the vehicle.

f) King Alfred, Winchester. I have recently been most perturbed to encounter the sculpture of King Alfred in Winchester. This tall bearded figure (holding of all things a sword!) arrested my attention for nearly 100 milliseconds. As a descendant of a Dane vanquished by Alfred the (so-called) Great, I found this piece of 'art' disturbing and distracting. If this was not enough of a distraction, my children were frightened by the thought of a sharp-edged object being held aloft without suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (other than the shield and helmet, neither of which appear to be to British Standard). To mitigate the risk of distraction to drivers, I strongly advocate the removal of this statue, or its more politically-correct remodelling as a bearded transvestite holding aloft a bunch of gladioli.

g) Debenhams (various locations). Following episodes of Doctor Who in which the Autons featured, my children and myself have become frightened and alarmed by shop-window dummies - dummies that are placed in may shop windows without appropriate signage to the driver to warn of their presence. I must insist that the Highways Agency take tempestive steps to address this omission, though I would suggest that a single "shop window dummies 100 yds" warning sign would be adequate.

h) 'No Motor Vehicle' order sign.  As an avid follower of the life and career of Evel Knievel I have on several recent occasions been disturbed to encounter the 'No Motor Vehicles' sign adjacent to trunk roads within the bailiwick of the Highways Agency. These signs only serve as a sad reminder of his passing and, specifically, the occasion in 1975 when Evel jumped an Austin Maxi on Saturday Seaside Special. To mitigate the upset, distraction and disturbance to other Knieval fans, I implore the Highways Agency to replace the red border with a more respectful black border at your earliest convenience.

I am sure that the Scuttleheads could stay a while longer? Perhaps it might take a week or so for a risk-assessment to be performed prior to their removal?

Yours faithfully,

Hugh Neve

Attached is the response from the Highways Agency.

Hugh Neve,
Mar 29, 2013, 11:31 AM