Above is just one of numerous messages issued by Basildon Council during the COVID-19 crisis to nudge/cajole their residents towards the kind of behaviour desired to ‘reduce’ the spread of the virus. Some of that messaging has focused on the level of physical distancing that us mere mortals are advised to adhere to in order to stop the spread. We realise there’s a considerable amount of increasingly heated debate about the lockdown and the measures we’re expected to adhere to. For the purposes of this piece, we don’t really want to enter into that minefield!

The assumption is that Basildon Council along with all the other authorities want us to continue to adhere to the two metres from anyone else physical distancing protocol until the virus has been ‘defeated’. That would be fine and dandy if their partners at Essex County Council hadn’t started a programme of infrastructure works between the railway station and the town centre which make adhering to physical distancing protocol nigh on impossible. These images illustrating this muddleheaded fuckwittery were sent to us by one of our contacts in Basildon…

This is outside the station exit going to the town centre. No entry to the underpass which is going (part of the plans for the complete re-modeling of the town centre), no use of the pavement at the moment so you have to use the crossing.

The now narrowed path towards the bus station and town centre which allows no space for physical distancing for those who still feel the need to adhere to this.

You couldn’t make this up – the pavement is blocked so you have to go into the road!

Underpasses were planned into the new town to safely separate pedestrians and traffic. The banks of the pathways provided a welcome habitat for flora and fauna as you can see. All this will be swept away as part of the grand ‘vision’ Cllr. Gavin Callaghan (the Labour leader of the council) has for the future of the town centre.

So there we have it. The railway station has been plastered with physical distancing advice by the train operator, c2c, who despite starting to run a fuller train service, don’t actually want to be dealing with any increase in passengers at the moment. Yet, pretty much as soon as you leave the station to go by foot to the town centre, because of the infrastructure works, you go from being bombarded with advice on maintaining physical distancing to an environment where it’s nigh on impossible to adhere to the protocol! It’s hardly surprising that an increasingly lockdown weary populace is not only confused by the very mixed signals that are being sent out but is also getting increasingly pissed off as well.

Last but by no means least, the eventual blocking of the underpass from the railway station is presumably to facilitate the plans the glorious leader of Basildon Council, Cllr. Gavin Callaghan, has for the transformation of Basildon town centre. Plans which we and many others have been led to believe are part of a six week statutory consultation period which is due to start on 1st June. If a consultation has yet to take place, it begs the question of why are infrastructure works which appear to be a part of this transformation already underway?