Glad to see police special constables back in limelight, says Scunthorpe Telegraph columnist Hugh Rogers
I was glad to read the spread about the Special Constabulary which the Telegraph carried recently. Specials have had rather an up and down reputation over the years – "You can't trust the Specials like the old time coppers" was a line from a song on everyone's lips 100 or more years ago.
It wasn't true then and it certainly isn't now.
I was trained as a Special Constable by the Metropolitan Police in Leman Street nick in East London and when you were pushed out to do your first "beat" you soon found out that when someone was in trouble, they didn't care that you had "SC" on your shoulder.
To them you were just as much of a copper as the ones with funny shaped hats – which, of course, you were.
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You swore an oath to keep the Queen's peace without fear or favour and in return they gave you the same powers of arrest as regular police. Plus a whistle, a radio which rarely worked (but the public didn't know that) and a rather nice ironwood truncheon which went in a special pocket down your trouser leg.
So I'm glad to see the Specials back in the limelight. They deserve it. Up the Specials !
As a motorist, I can still remember when the Highways Department actually did something I approved of. For the record it was the improvement to the Doncaster Road/Collinson Avenue junction.
So I was thrilled when I saw contractors working on the Messingham Road/Burringham Road junction. Sure they snarled up the traffic for a while, but I didn't mind that.
They drew some lovely lines over the old ones and some pretty drawings of bicycles.
But then they went away without renewing the most important road markings of all – ones which needed repainting as a matter of much more urgency than all the rest.
These are the lines which used to guide westbound Burringham Road traffic away from traffic right-turning into Messingham Road. But now they've been allowed to fade almost to nothing.
Henceforth, if I want to turn right there, rather than face down oncoming traffic without the protection of road markings, I'll stay put until the lights change. It might hold up traffic wanting to go through to Ashby Turn, of course, but don't have a go at me, complain to the Highways Department.
For sure, the Scunthorpe Telegraph is a big paper. It's our very own Big Society, bringing together the views, wishes, hopes and fears of us all.
Now that so many local people contribute to it, more than ever it is a forum for us all to express our opinions about local and national issues, encourage debate upon the topics of the day, have friendly arguments about everything from the monarchy to maternity.
It's the village hall, the pub, the bus stop and the ladies' sewing circle all rolled into one. It's somewhere we can express ourselves. We can grumble. We can celebrate. It helps lonely people to feel less isolated – more connected to the world beyond the confines of our own lace curtains. And that can't be bad.
Think yourself lucky you've still got a local paper. Many towns have lost theirs.
This is Hugh Rogers' final Strictly Speaking column for the Telegraph. We would like to thank Hugh for his contributions.