A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers
In my first year as a fledgling journalist a long time ago I got the chance to accompany the paper’s photographer to a travellers camp in the wilds of Goole and Howden in what was then Humberside.
It was a good story but I said “no thanks.”
The next day our slightly shaken photographer returned from the assignment with tales of snarling dogs, physical threats and what-not.
Now I’m not going to extrapolate some great generalisation from a single anecdote from nearly 30 years ago, second hand at that.
But I can understand the reservations residents in Pannal have expressed about current plans to site a new camp for travellers and gypsys in their backyard.
In Harrogate Borough Council’s defence, national planning policy requires all councils to address gypsy, traveller and travelling showpeople’s housing needs by identifying possible sites for camp.
As no other suitable options were put forward during the official Call for Sites, they’ve been forced to suggest using council-owned land in the fields next to Crimple Hall garden centre on the A61 Leeds Road.
In this season of good will to all men, perhaps we should heed the words of another Pannal resident, Lucy-Neely Morgan, who has been shocked by the tide of hostility from her own community.
The outcry against a camp isn’t the perfect advert for Christian charity at this time of year, I suppose.
But this strikes me as one of those situations where there is no right or wrong answer.
Whether the council’s proposed site is appropriate or not, whether you personally think it is a good idea or a bad one, I can state one thing for certain.
The potential site is very handy for the M&S at the petrol station.
The nature of Christmas has changed a lot since the days when even Lord Snooty could expect little more in his stocking than a satsuma, a bag of nuts and a handmade catapult.
Proof that little of that particular part of Christmas past remains came this week with a press release about present ideas which popped up in the newspaper’s email inbox.
Forget the X Box One S 500bg Minecraft Console at £219.99 or a 60in 1080p Hd 4 TV at £689.00.
Under the heading “premium Christmas gift,” the PR puff insisted that this year’s ‘must-have’ was a “dash cam”.
With a built-in GPS antenna and cameras front and back, this potential Christmas present guarantees to film and record other vehicles in case a crash should happen.
What’s coming next? Your own manned ambulance? An armoured vehicle?
Actually, neither example is completely far-fetched.
On the train the other week I overheard a mum talking excitedly about what she was intending to buy her young son for Christmas.