Dear Reader: Long-term traffic chaos + jailed in a cell!

A custody suite at Harrogate Police Station.
A custody suite at Harrogate Police Station.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Is Harrogate in danger of turning into one giant car park?

Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser.

Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser.

The thought did cross my mind as I stop-started my way up Otley Road on the way to work the other day.

Another thought was that a car which struggles to go anywhere isn’t really a car anymore, it’s a skip with wheels.

There are, of course, reasons for the thickening of traffic which may be amenable to solution.

Motorists could be taught to be more decisive on the road?

They could be fined for giving right of way to cars which don’t have a right of way?

They could be taught how to use mini-roundabouts?

Or, perhaps, it’s up to the authorities to have a look at the smarter organisation of existing junctions?

For example, it’s clear to anyone who drives through Bond End at Knaresborough that the traffic lights system itself often acts as an obstacle to flow even when traffic is light.

Even a bypass may do little to help, so much of our traffic congestion seems to be cross-town.

Perhaps our addiction to cars, including my own, continues to be the bigger problem.

Either way, with more and more new housing being planned across the district, this is not an issue which is going anywhere soon.

Traffic is, sadly, not a static problem.

Go straight to jail, do not pass go

I ended up in a police cell recently, or custody suite, rather.

It was purely by choice, I should add.

I was there to research a news feature about the invaluable work Independent Custody Visitors do across the country, in general, and at Harrogate, in particular.

The last time I’d been in Harrogate police station it had been the old one, a place of stone and wood that smacked of law and order from the days of Dixon of Dock Green and bobbies on the beat.

Still, in terms of the conditions, it was scarcely the Prisoner of Zenda or the Count of Monte Cristo.

I might add I was only there to report a death threat I’d received.

The new Harrogate Police Station on Beckwith Head Road not far from RHS Harlow Carr is impressively futuristic and looked to be thoroughly well organised.

Still, I had no wish to linger in the cell.

Sometimes derided as a ‘soft option’ I realised that to be in jail – or a custody suite to use the lingo - is to be deprived of almost all power over your own life, leaving you utterly vulnerable.

Which is where the volunteer Independent Custody Visitors come in, giving up their time freely to check detainees are being treated fairly and by the rules.

I’d like to point out I wasn’t offered anything to eat during my brief spell in a cell.

There was nothing to do and I grew bored instantly of staring at white walls.

But the police officer did kindly perform one crucial task on my behalf.

He let me out again.