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Turning back the clock to January 1998

PUBLISHED: 11:15 27 January 2018

On his January 1998 visit, the then-Home Secretary Jack Straw accompanies North Lynn community constable PC Bob Garner on a walk round the estate. Picture: Archant library

On his January 1998 visit, the then-Home Secretary Jack Straw accompanies North Lynn community constable PC Bob Garner on a walk round the estate. Picture: Archant library

Archant

Keith Skipper finds some modern parallels in January 1998’s news.

I had reason recently to consult my comprehensive daily diary for January, 1998. “Blair sends Straw to Norfolk” jumped out as an early candidate for headline of the year.

My first thought was it would have made much more sense if Mrs Thatcher had sanctioned such a generous gesture to cheer our hard-pressed farmers, home-made mattress makers and poll organisers trying to find out which way the political wind might be blowing.

In fact, it referred to a visit by the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to see how a policeman in residence on a King’s Lynn housing estate was getting on as Britain’s first SRB beat bobby. PC Bob Garner was the first community police officer provided by the government’s Single Regeneration Budget.

His home was in Mayflower Avenue in North Lynn. He used the building to hold surgeries and meet residents dropping in for a chat about problems arising. A Police Community Support Officer by another name … and we all know what happens to them when money is tight.

Familiar echoes on nearby diary pages included a warning from Chief Constable Ken Williams that Norfolk police “may have to cut as many as 100 jobs to plough money into new technology” and news of thousands of Norfolk pupils facing the loss of free school transport under education budget cuts.

I still get confused by political headlines. Like “May completes cabinet reshuffle” made me wonder if our current prime minister has moved the folder marked “removal firms” further towards the back and nudged “Boris building bridges” closer to the front.

Spare a thought for British snooker player Judd Trump, edged out 6-5 in the semi-finals of the recent Masters Tournament. I think I heard one television commentator utter: “At least we have now witnessed a Trump losing graciously”.

Judd must be fed up with bizarre business carried out in his name.

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