Tom Richmond: Politicians have steered us on the road to chaos

IT is a daily dilemma that confronts millions of working people as fuel costs rocket to a new high – do you drive to work, even with petrol and diesel so exorbitant, or do you use public transport if you have the option?

Neither is an enticing proposition. Either will leave you with a major hole in your pocket, whether it be petrol approaching 6 a gallon or a 10 per cent increase on overcrowded and unreliable trains.

It is clear people are thinking carefully about the cost-effectivness of journeys, and planning accordingly. Yet, for others, they have to incur the increased travelling costs – they have no alternative. Yet the greatest frustration, however, is the absence of any urgency on the part of the Government, local authorities or transport operators.

Ministers say it is up to town hall leaders to set spending priorities; councillors argue that they have no scope to do so because of the seriousness of the cuts – and buses and trains in these parts grind along even more slowly than previously.

Of course, funding is the greatest obstacle – but nothing is going to be treated while the transport infrastructure, which underpins the whole economy, continues to be ignored by the powers-that-be. If Ministers are serious about tackling these problems, they should be ring-fencing the proceeds from the latest VAT surcharge on fuel for road and rail improvements – and they should be compelling train and bus operators, by law if necessary, to use their additional revenue from fare increases on service enhancements.

Just because they receive massive public subsidies does not mean they should be exempt from the efficiency drive now underway in every aspect of society. They, too, should be in a position to trim their management costs. Yet, until a new approach to transport funding is agreed, Britain – and Yorkshire – is going to become even more gridlocked. And the people to blame will not be the commuters, but the politicians who were so complacent, for so long, about the need to plan ahead and ensure that this country had a transport infrastructure that is fit for purpose.

Just because our political elite can afford their travel costs, and have their expenses paid by taxpayers, does not give them the green light to do nothing.

HAVING started to tackle the refuse backlog in Leeds that was caused by management failure, is there any chance that the council, and others across the path, can turn their attention to filling in the exceedingly dangerous potholes on the region's roads – or are they waiting for the compensation claims to be filed before they act?

I'M not surprised that Labour appointee Cathy (Baroness) Ashton, Britain's full-time representative on the EU executive, has failed to attend two-thirds of European Commission meetings. She was clearly not cut out for global diplomacy. Even though she's paid 230,000 a year, her attendance record is said to be the worst of the EU's 27 commissioners. And, of those meetings she's attended, she has left many early. What I don't understand, however, is why David Cameron, has not ordered Ashton to resign and be replaced with an individual who is prepared to stand up for Britain's interests in Brussels.

How about David Davis, the Haltemprice and Howden MP who is a former Europe Minister from the era of John Major's government?

I SEE Ed Balls, the Shadow Home Secretary and West Yorkshire MP, was stumped when he was asked this question by a Tory MP this week: "Do you think it would be better if police spent more time on patrol than they do on paperwork?"

Balls replied: "Erm... I think that is too simplistic a question for me to give a sensible answer." It was a response that was indicative of a politician who needs to persuade his party to review his policy approach so Britain enjoys more effective and efficient government if Labour ever returns to power.

A QUESTION for Ed Miliband, the Labour leader. Will you be supporting the Aslef Tube drivers if they strike on the day of the Royal Wedding? A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice.

HERE'S a tale of two sportsmen from last weekend – and why National Hunt racing will always be more honourable than Association Football.

Theo Walcott admitted diving or, put another way, cheating during Arsenal's FA Cup tie against Leeds United. This is part of the multi-millionaire's DNA, together with the feigning of injury.

Contrast this with Tom Scudamore, a good jump jockey who suffered a crashing fall and was kicked repeatedly by stray hooves that have far more venom than a football boot.

He got up, brushed himself down and rode in the next two races. He stopped at the doctor's on the long drive home and discovered he had torn his kidney. Sidelined for two weeks, he's already desperate to return to the saddle.

For the record, he's paid little more than 100 a ride in a sport where the ambulance follows the competitors.

I know who I admire more – and it is not the prima donna footballer who, once again, proved that top-flight players are overpaid under-achievers who cheat to win.

IF the unfunny Adrian Chiles cannot stand the sight of himself on television, why does the presenter of ITV's unappealing Daybreak continue to front so many other programmes?

I cannot fathom why the likes of Chiles, and the BBC's resident motor-mouth Colin Murray, are so highly-rated by the television industry when they have such a fundamental flaw in their broadcasting technique – an obsession with their own voice.