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Dear Reader: Gated community in Harrogate + between a rock & a hard place

Families enjoying the Valley Gardens in Harrogate.
Families enjoying the Valley Gardens in Harrogate.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

For anyone who didn’t take a stroll in Harrogate’s Valley Gardens in the hot glare of last Sunday afternoon, let me tell you it was an amazing sight.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

The paddling pool was packed to the gills, as was the whole children’s play area.

Youngsters took to their skate boards while parents played crazy golf, still surprisingly popular in these hi-tech times.

While some adults promenaded up the path to the trees of the Pinewoods as if Victoria was still on the throne, others lay on the warm grass with picnics or under green-coloured gazebos they’d purposely brought with them.

Whichever direction your eyes travelled, there were different people of different ages doing different things without a hint of rancour. Peace reigned.

It may surprise you that less than 100 yards from where this cheerful scene was unfolding, there is a ‘gated community’.

To be fair this new housing development off Cold Bath Road isn’t a big one, nor is it obtrusive.

By ‘gated’ I mean a residential community guarded by strictly controlled entrances, to wit walls, gates and fence.

I suppose this new development in Harrogate isn’t really a threat to anyone.

But why would you need a gated community in the affluent, beautiful and relatively safe town that is Harrogate?

Once upon a time journalists jumped at the sound of a telephone bell.

Now people make contact with this newspaper in an wide variety of ways to tell us about a story – and long may it continue.

We look into everything that comes our way but that doesn’t mean we publish whatever readers kindly take the trouble to tell us.

A lot of the time what we are told is pure speculation. Occasionally it’s well-founded rumour. But sometimes, for whatever reason, it’s simply inaccurate.

It’s easy for the over-eager reporter to get it wrong, which is why we all have to sit a set of comprehensive exams before being allowed anywhere near a senior role.

Still, no one gets it right all the time, though it’s not for want of trying.

There are rules about what we can or can’t publish, some to do with ethics others with the law on libel or privacy.

And that’s before the small matter of trying to be balanced and fair is thrown into the mix.

Sometimes a story simply falls into place like in the movies but the natural position for any good news organisation is to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

And that’s the way successive generations of journalists, most of whom were wiser than me have liked it, since the very first issue of this newspaper was published in 1836.

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