Dear Reader: Beauty spot v new road + hearing aid hoo-ha
A personal column by the Harrogate Adertiser's Graham Chalmers
If the furore which greeted last week’s news of what was contained in the three hundred pages of potential solutions to Harrogate and Knaresborough’s road congestion woes produced at much effort and some expense on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council is anything to go by, the entire report might as well have been boiled down to a simple, single sentence.Before the first meeting of county councillors due to take place today, Thursday had even taken place this newspaper had been hit by a barrage of angry email, letters and posts the like of which I have rarely seen in the last 30 years.In theory, the study outlines five potential ‘packages’ of measures to ease our mounting traffic problems and it should be remembered these were drawn up by independent consultants rather than the county council itself.But one option, in particular, almost screamed out for more attention, which this newspaper duly gave it.The resulting tide of correspondence showed a significant number of people can see the wood for the trees , correctly spotting that one option for reducing car gridlock would put the backwaters of Bilton and the beauty of Nidd Gorge at risk from the biggest relief road project in the area for decades.When I met with Jemima Parker of local pressure group Zero Carbon Harrogate on Friday she asked me why this newspaper had gone so big straight away on the relief road ‘package’ rather than the more sustainable and environmentally-friendly options also outlined at length in the study.It was that simple, single sentence in that huge report.Only 7% of the motorised journeys causing traffic congestion are by non-local people passing through the town.Life is the great leveller, they say, but I think it’s possible to narrow that down further.Hospital is the great leveller.If you ever have any idea that somehow you aren’t just the same as everyone else, try being ill.Not only are you in a weakened state, not only do you feel vulnerable, you are also surrounded by other people in exactly the same boat.Bus drivers and teachers, accountants and baristas, the young and the old, everyone.And they’re all strangers, though not usually for long. The other week after doing some physio at Harrogate Hospital, I found myself having a conversation with someone I’d just met as I was changing in the dressing room.First we talked about our relative conditions, then we compared stomach sizes, as you do. Then, just as I was preparing to leave, I felt a whizz over my right ear and the blur of something landing on the floor.I bent down to pick the indistinct object up then realised at the last moment that it was his hearing aid.“Here we are,” I said and passed it back to him.