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Roadside boxes....

Wendy Austin | 14:12 UK time, Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sometimes the best stories come from small beginnings - our first text in today came from Mark in Broughshane who wanted to know what those small black boxes on poles at the side of lots of our roads are-  facing in opposite directions?

Well - no sooner had I read that out and put the question than dozens of helpful Talkback listeners weighed in - they're for checking tax, for speeding, for spotting congestion, for catching terrorists, for reading number plates, for catching drivers without insurance - you name it.

And it turned out - many of you were right. I know because Basil McCrea UUP MLA and member of the Policing Board called in - you can hear him on the Talkback podcast today - to say yes, they were "ANPR cameras" - numberplate recognition technology for use in fighting terrorism and motoring offences.He said they'd been sanctioned and paid for under the auspices of the Policing Board.  I asked how much they'd cost but he wasn't at liberty to tell me - millions? Yes. Ten million? Couldn't tell me he said. But other texters said we have a right to know - its our money .

Our caller John said there weren't enough of them but had a go at Basil anyway, while others said they'd been stopped by police road checks after passing the ANPR cameras, and asked about their insurance.

So what's your view - if you're paying your road tax and insurance, are they good for catching people who aren't, who're breaking the law? Are they an eyesore - a distraction on the roads? Or has big brother gone a step too far this time? Why not tell William tomorrow - I'm having a lie-in...and have a good weekend!


  • Comment number 1.

  • Comment number 2.

    Another useless mundane topic.......

  • Comment number 3.

    ...... with pointless mundane comments from andytownbob and Scybalous.

    What a fine platform for informed topical discussion this Blog truly is !!

  • Comment number 4.

    Yep bring back the MB we have important things to discuss and have a laugh at like when is Iris bringing out her book

  • Comment number 5.

    Laird Biffa.... I dont know when Iris will have here book out,
    but a good title might be 'Further developments' lol..... The Titanic took longer to go down than this blog.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ard LOL , mind you we had some fun on the Tb messageboard about Iris, good times and a load of craic. Im sure the Politicians hated our version of free speech and topical debate. Damn the BBC for killing the TB board.

  • Comment number 7.

    That's right, Bob. The Talkback office should have a statue of her put up outside Ormeau Ave. given the mileage they got from her. Pols here see themselves, in reality, as about accountable as Gadhaffi.

  • Comment number 8.

    My reply to your nr 6 msg was deleted, Bob. Fee sppech and all that, don't you know.

  • Comment number 9.

    hmmmm damn the BBC for killing the TBMB and Talkback,...well at least its been listenable too the last few days,........without you know who

  • Comment number 10.

    SL1.... being who, according to you?

  • Comment number 11.

    Nobody writing in to complain about 'Mrs Brown's Boys'. Progress of a sort then.

  • Comment number 12.

    i take it you aint been listening,..William has been standing in for Womans hour Wendy the last few days,...he done well,..well except for the debate on sliced or non sliced veda

  • Comment number 13.

    No, Seasoned, I hardly ever listen to TB, but I should still have guessed it anyway. I used to love eating veda [uncut, as the breadman brought it.] with coffee back in the 70s. I rarely drink coffee now. Trust you're well.

  • Comment number 14.

    Speaking of which .... What ever happened to Fruit Veda ? Similar to a Fruit Loaf, it made an appearance for a few years and then it was gone .. or does someone know different ??

  • Comment number 15.

    " .. it made an appearance for a few years and then it was gone .. "

    A bit like the Talkback MB I suppose .. What ever became of it I wonder ?

  • Comment number 16.

    Anybody know what happened ER.I loved his departing post in Nov 2010;

    It has been a good innings for me since I joined the board in 2003/4 (so long ago I can't even remember exactly). I can honestly say I've enjoyed it despite the extreme frustration invoked on occasion. It has been addictive but also informative and enabled me to converse with people from all walks of life that I might not otherwise have encountered and has given me different perspectives on various issues. From the early days and the likes of Eleanor Bull to Scallion Hunter to newer posters such as Dave and derryjon there have been many decent and informative posters.

    I'll no doubt miss out many but it's goodbye and best wishes to Ted, Red, Harry, Cate, Fab30g, Blue Lotus, South Facing Hedgehog (never did reveal which continental country he was from), About Face, CHOS, RDN, new, Rich, Loaf, Heinzy, Schomberg, SeasonedLoyalist, Derek, Dave, Ardmaj, Beece, Paddy, Scybalous, Chelsea, IU, Bord, Rev Mo, Auldhairy, kalista, gerry, Premod Tomtom, Laird, ATB, Realist, Fractal, Fluffy, maggie, LC, Pooka, even the Ballymurphy twins and many others.

    For my foremost left wing opponents (you know who you are) all the very best. We may have disagreed on the approach but I firmly believe we had the same goal i.e. a prosperous and just society for all. I'd be happy to share a country with you fellows any day.

    I'll be around on other boards, always as ER, so I will hopefully bump into you all there.

    All the best


    Ahhhh I miss the old man and his ultra conservative views, wonder what he would make of Cameron/Clegg policies

  • Comment number 17.

    Ah Bob!! .. Why did you go and do that ??!! Looking at that list of names just confirms what a treasure the Beeb chucked away. :(

  • Comment number 18.

    I forgot to mention to BBC powers that killed TB messageboard that the above post by ER was typical of how effective the TB messageboard was at uniting ordinary Prods,Catholics etc in NI.I have never met ER, and, would certainly never agree with him poitically or his conservative outlooks.......so get your brains in gear and reopen the tb messageboard!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    This is how the BBC NI consults and informs "Its Members" and fee payers;

    Nov 11, 2010

    Dear Members,

    We will be permanently closing our Talk NI Message Board from midnight on Wednesday November 17 2010. We know that to many of you this will come as a surprise and be unwelcome news.

    The BBC has a responsibility to spend its settlement under the licence fee wisely and continually reviews each of the services it provides.

    Over time the Talk NI Message Board has become less and less distinguishable from the many online discussions taking place elsewhere on bbc.co.uk and more widely on the internet. In addition it has become ever more difficult to allocate resources to starting and hosting discussions.

    In order to preserve the Talkback programme’s unique connection with the audience we will instead be creating The Talkback Blog as a resource for the online community to comment and contribute to discussions on the day’s big news events. Talkback presenter Wendy Austin will be posting on the blog from Thursday November 18 2010.

    We hope you understand this move has been made to enable us to better serve the needs of license fee payers.

    We know that many of you have spent a good deal of time and effort participating here over the years and that many of you have built friendships with other participants. We hope you can continue those friendships and discussions on the Talkback Blog. The BBC also provides other spaces for people to exchange ideas and views:

    BBC Message Board Listing: www.bbc.co.uk/messag...
    BBC News Have Your Say: www.bbc.co.uk/haveyo...

    Other places where you may find or start your own online discussions:

    Google Groups: groups.google.co.uk/
    ProBoards: www.proboards.com/in...
    Yahoo Groups: uk.groups.yahoo.com/

    Slugger O’Toole offers opportunities to comment and engage on political issues in Northern Ireland: www.sluggerotoole.co...

    Many local and regional newspaper websites also offer message boards, blogs or other discussion opportunities. The Newspaper Society website has a full listing: www.newspapersoc.org...

    Finally, thank you to everyone who has participated here over the years. We hope that those of you who have spent time and effort building wonderful communities and friendships can develop those further on the Talkback Blog and beyond.

    Many Thanks and Best Wishes,

    BBC Northern Ireland New Media

    And they replaced the TB with this Wendy blog rubbish...

  • Comment number 20.

    I thought Id repeat a paragraph of the above again;

    "In order to preserve the Talkback programme’s unique connection with the audience we will instead be creating The Talkback Blog as a resource for the online community to comment and contribute to discussions on the day’s big news events. Talkback presenter Wendy Austin will be posting on the blog from Thursday November 18 2010."

    These people have been charged with ensuring news,communication and fostering good relations witnin NI in a balanced way...

  • Comment number 21.

    " .. In order to preserve the Talkback programme’s unique connection with the audience we will instead be creating The Talkback Blog as a resource for the online community to comment and contribute to discussions on the day’s big news events. "

    Some mistake there surely, Beeb .. or rather a couple of mistakes and/or contradictions : " .. the Talkback programme’s unique connection with the audience .. "
    .. has become a mere shadow of what it used to be, and, albeit much the same criticism : " .. The Talkback Blog as a resource for the online community to comment and contribute to discussions on the day’s big news events. "
    .. since the "Talkback" programme no longer covers the day's big news events to anywhere near the same degree that it used to, this Blog ain't much of a resource.

  • Comment number 22.

    Wendy any comment would be nice......

    Silence Wendy is golden....

  • Comment number 23.

    It's all a bit like the old advert for Tayto. Often imitated but never equalled. Bet the mods will not let this one sit for too long. Just bring back the Message Board and stop messing around with this silly blog whic hardly anyone participates in. C'mon BBCNI get the act together

  • Comment number 24.

    HI Guys think your "floggin a dead horse", its "as dead as a dodo" and "the nail on head" has truly been hit! How many cliches can we write? This cucumber has been well and truly hidden! (always my favourite lol)!!!!


  • Comment number 25.

    Hi, Supergran. My theory for what it's worth is the suits on fifth floor got rid of the board partly out of costcutting, but also because it often contradicted their narrative about this place, that with the white elephant on the hill back in business, we had a shiny new govt in a new NI and some posters stubbornly proved it hadn't changed that much. I wonder how long we'll be let stay on this board we've hijacked from mifddle England?

  • Comment number 26.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hello people, boys a dear I can't stand middle England. What, between home baking, cats, dogs, aga's, slow cookers, meets and luvies not to mention HAGADAPA whatever that means?

    Bring back good down to earth chat/arguments that crossed the divide and honest to goodness friendship for progress.


    "Awk I'm fine thank you"

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm not playin anymore.

  • Comment number 31.

    Give me back my ball.

  • Comment number 32.

    Lady C you bold girl you got catpeeded on as they say on the Archers.

  • Comment number 33.

    This seems to be the only entry left that isn't closed for comment. an admission of defeat if ever there was one. All is needed now is for Col. Gadhaffi to sign up and give it the coup de grace.

  • Comment number 34.

    Whats up no stray dogs , no TB messageboard, BBC NI leadership non exsistant. Sounds all to familiar just as in Tripoli....think Ill head for the Archers and spread a bit of tyranny and chaos.

  • Comment number 35.

    Msg 34 Bob. I didn't get to reply to your post on the other thread about the Hospice, they closed it from further comment by the time I got to it. My mother [RIP] spent her last days in the City Hospital back in midseventies. Not sure if it's improved much since.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi all greetings from Tripoli

  • Comment number 37.

    I have heard of this wonderful little country and may make this my bolthole. I am reliably informed by Gordon and Tony that this is an excellent place to erect my tent.Any ideas of a suitable area, must be free from little dictators, corrupt politicians, capable of saying no, and must have lovely ladies to make into my personal security bodyguard.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hiya Muammar ... you don't mind me calling you "Moo" do you ?

    Any jobs going ? I'm a dab hand at property development, benefit fraud, tax evasion, blackmail, extortion, demanding money with menaces and flower-arranging.

    A word of advice .. Beware the Ever-Fragrant Iris ;)

  • Comment number 39.

    Will she be my bodyguard...can she handle herself?

  • Comment number 40.

    It's the others she handles that's the problem, mon colonel.

  • Comment number 41.

    ard makes a very good point there Moo .. a high risk of "cross-contamination" so to speak.

  • Comment number 42.

    Souq on the hill Colonel Gadhaffi?

    Bizarre. At least you won't come a cropper on pot holes.

    Cheap lunch, and always the coalhole for interviews on RU.

    And you can always play hurling on the green grassy lawns.

    Fancy a wee stay Col.?

  • Comment number 43.


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