In an effort to save money and get the public more involved, the current government has setup a website - Spending Challenge - where members of the public can make suggestions on how the government can cut costs and save money. The best ideas will be considered as part of the Spending Review, which will set out four year spending plans for all government departments as well as considering other areas of spending including welfare, will be published on 20 October.

Apparently they've received over 100000 suggestions so far, including a suggestion of switching all government and public service computers to run on free Linux and open source software. I couldn't agree with this one more but given the government views it too expensive to upgrade away from IE6, I doubt we'll see this happen any time soon.

Anyway, this post isn't about what ideas the government will or will not implement, it's about my own spending challenge suggestion. I've not actually made this suggestion as I only have evidence of one occurrence, but it's worth pointing out none-the-less:

Stop spending money on installing new street signs when the current sign is perfectly good.

The other weekend on my way to work, I happened to notice a nice shiny new sign on Reading Road just as you enter Wokingham, and I thought to myself: "Why? What a waste of money". Seeing shiny new signs isn't anything special and it's good to see signs being maintained, but this is not one of those situations. Here is the new sign I spotted...

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As you can see, the Highways Agency put in a whole new sign less than ONE meter away from the old sign. Why on earth did they do that? What's wrong with the old sign?

Well, a quick look on Google Street view may reveal what could be the problem they were trying to fix...

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Reading Road heading into Wokingham
(Google Streetview)
Reading Road heading out of Wokingham
(Google Streetview)

Yup, it looks like they were trying to sort out the problem of a missing 40 mph sign on the back. Unfortunately, their decision to put in a whole new street sign to cater for the missing 40 mph sign is way more expensive than just putting up a new sign on the back of the current, but more importantly it doesn't have the desired effect as the new sign is obscured by the old sign, so you can't see the 40 mph side anyway.

The only reasoning I can see for this decision is the heath and safety trained "sign hanging and cleaning operative" wasn't available, but the health and safety trained "sign erecting operative" was :-) . Whatever the reason, it seems like a complete waste of money to me.