Dear Reader: Are Harrogate drivers getting worse + what are politicians really like

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 22nd November 2019, 3:58 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd November 2019, 4:47 pm

I did well to avoid getting scraped by a lorry the other day.

I was driving in the Kingsley area of Harrogate, a place which, thanks to a series of major housing developments, now feels like a Bob the Builder theme park.

It wasn’t the lorry driver’s fault.

Are the road closures, roadworks and traffic congestion concerns in Harrogate changing peoples attitudes and manners when driving on our roads?

It’s a big vehicle and the roads round there are narrow, unsuited to the sort of lumbering machinery which has changed life so much on Bogs Lane, Kingsley Drive and Kingsley Road over the last ten months.

The dust that’s been thrown up is, perhaps, part of a wider worrying change, however.

As one rat run or cut-through after another in Harrogate becomes clogged up with more and more cars, people’s manners are changing.

People don’t signal.

Everyone drives too fast.

People don’t give way when they should.

The changing attitude is threatening to undermine the tenor of daily life.

Residents round the south end of Station Parade where Waitrose is located have been complaining that some drivers are putting foot to pedal as if the two lanes of this one-way section were a Formula One race track.

A new pedestrian crossing is the plea.

Speaking personally, I’m not so sure about that.

There’s plenty of traffic light systems already situated in that couple of hundred yards stretch.

What I think is really needed is drivers to change their behaviour.

That, and a return to the days of patience.

But is slow living possible for any but the rich?

Dear Reader: part 2

It’s not unusual during election campaigns for readers to get in touch asking why don’t you pin this or that particular candidate or party down on this or that particular issue?

A good idea in theory but, perhaps, not in practice.

As an organisation which not only tries to write about the whole town and district but represent its best interests across the board, we have to be fair to everyone. Squaring this with the partisan nature of political campaigns is one reason why we, like all of the regional press, press the ‘purdah’ button once a General Election is called.

Designed originally to ensure the impartiality of civil servants and local councils at election time, the regional press have also stood by it for decades.

I am free to talk about political figures I’ve had the good fortune to meet face to face during my time in journalism, if, that is, I do it in a non-political way.

So, here goes.

Neil Kinnock was funnier than you would assume.

Charles Kennedy duller.

Alistair Campbell less clever.

Chris Grayling tetchier.

David Steel older-looking.

I think you get the picture.

If that sounds like a less than definitive answer to the question, it’s the only one I can give and, at the end of the day, the only one that makes any sense.

This is a local newspaper rather than a national one and we play a different role with different rules.

The old saying that religion and politics are the two things you should never talk about at dinner could just as well apply to regional newspapers.