Yesterday evening I drove from Carlisle to Oxford, I counted no fewer than five significant roadworks sites on the M6, two on the M40 and then another on the A34 – where a new bridge is being slotted into place across the Thames.

Between all the contraflows, narrow lanes and camera-enforced average-speed zones I reckon that the journey took me about 15 minutes longer than it would have done unhindered.

Anyway, this isn’t meant as a whinge. Investment in the more obviously knackered parts of our dilapidated road infrastructure is a good thing – and nobody could deny that the A34 needs to be widened. But is it really necessary that so many of these big projects take place at about the same time – as the end of the financial year grows closer?

I used to suspect that this was an urban myth, until I spoke to a mate’s dad who works as a roads contractor, and who confirmed that there’s always a real rush in February and March to spend ‘contingency’ budgets to ensure they get signed off for subsequent financial years.

It just doesn’t seem like a very efficient way to do things.

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