Dear Reader: We need real affordable housing + my spell in A&E

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Thursday, 23rd March 2017, 3:09 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:45 am
Is it possible to have an allergy to hospitals?

This newspaper’s Facebook page gets a lot of posts but there’s one which has stuck with me for the last six months.It came from a reader expressing his bemusement at news that housing developers in Harrogate had defined “affordable housing” as £280,000.We live in an era where “thinking the unthinkable” and “saying the unsayable” are not only allowed but almost encouraged, well, in terms of immigration and race relations at least.In that spirit can I just point out that the average house now costs 7.6 times the average annual salary nationally, according to the figures.In my personal opinion, the worrying aspect about the go-ahead being given for 91 new homes in Starbeck recently isn’t Harrogate Council’s inability to oppose the plans under current government rules.Nor is it the likely impact on traffic in Bogs Lane, which has become an overly-used rat-run to avoid the horrors of driving along Knaresborough Road, one which, I have to confess, I utilise myself.No the troubling aspect is the element of affordable housing and what that means.If I can “think the unthinkable” and “say the unsayable” for a moment, what Harrogate needs is a lot more housing which is truly affordable to the small army of lower paid workers who sustain the district’s utterly crucial service sector.What it doesn’t need is housing at £280,00 - or above.

It didn’t quite go according to plan when I attended my first pre-surgery class at Harrogate District Hospital last week.After only 20 minutes I ended up in A&E.It’s important at this point to say it was nothing the hospital did.I was only watching the video when my strange turn happened and I found myself on rather close terms with the floor.Before I knew it I was being whisked into A&E in a wheelchair where I was recognised immediately by a member of my own running club.At this point I need to emphasise that it turned out to be nothing serious. In fact, they could find nothing wrong with me.The impressive thing was that everything the busy doctors and nurses did came with an air of urgency but total calm.I suppose I’ve lived a charmed life. My only previous experience of hospitals has been as a visitor for various friends and relatives over the years.I like to think I’m fairly competent in most situations, though the more talented and younger footballers I played against at five-a-side against every Tuesday night at Harrogate High School gym until a year or so ago would probably disagree.Perhaps the painful truth is that I’m simply rubbish at being a patient? I’m also told there is such a thing as an allergy to hospitals.I’m not sure where you go to cure that one.