When Daniel Moylan, the Conservative Deputy Leader of RBKC Council, wanted to do something about the appalling mess that Kensington High Street had become he faced a seemingly insuperable obstacle in the council's own traffic and transport engineers. These experts, who feared being sued unless they stuck rigidly to the Department of Transport's outdated and antique 'guidance' on road design, refused to present RBKC members with the traffic scheme they wanted.
They warned Moylan that removing the cattle-pen barriers, taking down the thousand-odd signs that commanded pedestrians and motorists, and allowing people to make their own decisions as to how they shared the road space would lead to a massive increase in road accidents. Moylan persisted. Officials refused. In the end, RBKC councillors in committee made their own decisions at variance with their experts' recommendations, and thereby took personal legal liability for any accidents caused. It was an incredibly brave thing to do; if Moylan was wrong, he risked losing everything.
In the event, the years have proven so far that Moylan's scheme has actually reduced accidents on Kensington High Street, that traffic moves faster and everyone is happier. The experts aren't always right.
And even when the experts are right, in terms of a narrowly drawn scientific conclusion, it should always be democratically elected representative that have the final say; there are always other factors, perhaps far more important factors, than are considered by the scientists within their narrow remit.
If we let the pointy-heads rule us on the basis of their science alone, then Sweden, Canada and the Czech Republic would never have stopped their compulsory sterilisation programmes, and women and men deemed eugenically detrimental would be castrated or have their wombs removed. Sweden, Polly Toynbee's favourite nation, only ceased doing this in 1976. If we let the pointy-heads rule us, then not only pre-war Germany but all of Europe would have euthanised defective infants and those men so terribly war-wounded that they were incapable of independent life. If we let the pointy-heads rule us, then we would waste thousands of billions of the world's wealth on combating mythical AGW. Oh, sorry ....