To mark the end of the silly season, Transport Network is making a mountain out of a molehill by remembering some minor transport scandals and non-scandals. Here are the Top 5 storms in a teacup.
After it was reported that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had to sit on the floor on a Virgin East Coast train, publicity-shy Virgin founder Richard Branson hit back by releasing CCTV pictures, which the company claimed showed that Mr Corbyn had ignored empty seats.
Behind the non-story of the year, the bigger story is that a lot of people don’t get seats on trains up and down the country (thank you - Ed).
Mr Corbyn’s predecessor Ed Miliband once made the opposite mistake of travelling first class, which his aides allegedly tried to cover up. The moral of the story is that politicians shouldn’t use public transport, certainly not Labour ones, or Steve Norris. Then again you will get in trouble for not using public transport so basically it's a bicyle or nothing. Although...
On the other hand, cyclist Andrew Mitchell got into a lot of trouble, including losing his Cabinet job and a big bill in a libel case, after he was told by police officers that he could not cycle though the main gates of Downing Street, but would have to walk through the pedestrian gate.
It was reported that Mr Mitchell had called the boys and girls in blue ‘plebs’ a toxic allegation for a Conservative and a judge agreed that he probably had. The saga became known as plebgate because a non-scandal where the word ‘gate’ was actually relevant breaks all the rules of journalism.
The Soulbury stone with added lines. Credit: Stephen Liddell
Earlier this year, someone may or may not have reversed into a rock that had allegedly sat in the middle of a road in the Buckinghamshire village of Soulbury for 11,000 years without a road traffic accident.
After a suggestion that the rock might be moved caused ‘outrage’, with residents (not) chaining themselves to it, the county council agreed that the infamous stone would stay exactly where it is, albeit with new lines. The parish council then, unsurprisingly, decided not to spend nearly £40k on a new setting for the stone.
4) Lay-by gate
Only this week, Transport Network reported a roadside row between Thurrock Council and Highways England over the latter’s (allegedly) ‘cowardly’ and ‘despicable’ behaviour in declining to close and or tidy-up a number of lay-bys on the A1089 leading to Tilbury Docks. Nothing to see here.
Not all storms in teacups are actually storms in teacups. Last year Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest car makers, admitted that it had been deliberately cheating emissions tests in the US by installing defeat device software that could detect when a car was being tested and change its operation accordingly. The scandal caused reverberations around the world.
However, in March Tory MP Karl McCartney, a member of the Commons Transport Committee, told the then transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin that the air quality issue in terms of Volkswagen was a ‘storm in a teacup’. Perhaps he meant a very large teacup...