Well, a Norfolk couple could surely have gained many years without worry, stress and financial loss if someone in Norfolk County Council or the Department of Transport had spoken out twenty years ago about what the Local Government and Parliamentary Ombudsmen have ruled is a case of maladministration by local and central government for having refused to purchase compulsorily the home of a now elderly couple whose home was blighted by plans, since abandoned, to construct a new by-pass within four metres of their house. In the words of Local Government Ombudsman Jerry White:
"I conclude that the council could not reasonably have refused to buy Swans Harbour had the matter been considered properly - as it should have been - in October 1992."
and Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham:
"I consider that the Department should have given clearer guidance to the council about their new power to purchase properties, which would be badly affected but not technically blighted by the proposed new road."
Now Norfolk County Council chief executive Tim Byles is quoted as saying:
"We are very sorry indeed about what has happened and the impact that this matter has had on Mr and Mrs Balchin.
"On behalf of Norfolk County Council, I offer our sincere and unreserved apologies to them."
Now this is all very well, Mr Byles, and I imagine Mr and Mrs Balchin are duly grateful for your kind words, but tell me this Mr Byles, will any of the personnel employed by Norfolk County Council or the Department of Transport suffer in any way for having ridden rough-shod over the rights of a couple of innocent citizens who found their lives turned upside-down by an uncaring and arrogant administration? Go on, surprise me!