Dear Reader: What if our public bodies end up doing nothing?

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.
The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

Column by the Harrogate Advertiser’s Graham Chalmers

When Police and Crime Commissioners threaten to sue the Home Office over police funding and the local chamber of trade comes out publicly against cuts in the fire service, it’s obvious change is affecting our public services in more ways than might have been expected.

What’s really driving concern about the latest round of belt-tightening seems to go beyond the usual whinging.

The great fear, though it’s rarely expressed, is that all these spending reviews and radical restructures will simply force public bodies to quietly dispense with many of the functions they were set up to perform.

The name will remain, the goals will be the same but there will be little attempt to meet them.

Though there’s always the danger of appearing alarmist, ignoring the elephant in the room never tends to end well either.

How long before we have a police force which doesn’t police, a fire service which doesn’t tackle fires and a social care service which doesn’t offer any care?

It’s Saturday night on Knaresborough Road. A car flashes past me in the dark as I’m waiting for the bus.

I can just make out the driver and his front seat passenger as it whizzes past.

Both of them are werewolves.

Five minutes later I’m on the bus heading into town when it stops to pick up a group of young people.

They’re vampires.

Eventually the bus arrives at its final destination.

The centre of Harrogate is a sea of people in masks and make-up.

It looks like the set of a zombie movie – or the A&E department in a Glasgow hospital on a Saturday night.

I don’t think Robert Burns can have imagined any of this in 1786 when he wrote the poem Hallowe’en which immigrants from Scotland and Ireland carried with them as they sailed across the Atlantic to the far-flung shores of America.