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Cley post box

November 2010 Report

It seems our local Police Sergeant has been transferred to Sheringham nick, his place being taken by Sgt Howard Olby, late of Holt. Musical chairs, Police style. Last one standing when the music stops gets made redundant. Someone at Wells nick sent us a crime report – one case of theft by an employee; an arrest has been made. Wonder who that could be? Talking of arrests, the other day we saw a middle aged man being handcuffed and bundled into a policecar right here in Cley High Street. No idea who he was or what he had done – it didn’t seem to be a parking infringement.

The ‘High Street’ sign that was installed on Mackrell’s Hill a few months ago has gone. Not a case of vandalism, unless you consider all lorry drivers who choose to use the A149 to be vandals, but a tail swipe from a juggernaut. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. One householder on that corner has given up the unequal struggle and replaced their garden wall with a thick hedge. Perhaps the NNDC could make the signs out of rubber instead of recycled plastic.

Our County Councillor reported that the NCC was having to make swingeing cuts to their budget next year to appease the Mad Axe man of Downing Street. Actually our County Councillor didn’t use quite those words, I’m glossing, but the effect was much the same: the vandalising of large swathes of our social infrastructure. He did proudly announce that the NCC is running a consultation exercise (details on the website www.norfolk.gov.uk) about where the cuts should fall. This is a bit like being told that you have to lose weight and the only way to do it is to have a leg chopped off, but you get to choose which leg. Of course, there won’t be any reduction in your council tax. Let’s hope they get our drains fixed before the money runs out.

On the subject of tax, it pains me to have to announce that, after careful consideration of next year’s budget, we will have to raise our precept to £8,000 for next year year. This is the first increase in five years and is due to extraordinary items of expenditure likely to be incurred next year. A number of pet projects, such as clearing up the quay area and setting up a council web-site, which have been on the back burner for years are covered by our reserves which have been earmarked – or should one say ring-fenced (hypothecated is so last year) – for the purpose. Another project, a public loo for the village, has been on the back burner so long I think the flame has gone out.

The matter of the red phone box came up again. Having some time ago agreed to ‘sponsor’ the box – pay to have it remain as a functioning phone box at a cost of some £300 a year – BT have sent us a contract for ‘adopting’ the box instead. For anyone out there who has managed to avoid this saga so far, ‘adopting’ a phone box means that your council gets lumbered with maintaining an empty box as BT will have stripped out all the innards. Now the chance of Clark Kent breezing into the village any time soon is remote, probably because he’s a fictional character, so what is the point of having an empty phone box? None that I can see. Of course BT are reluctant to go to all the trouble of having the thing removed, not least because it is a listed ‘building’, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott no less, designer of the erstwhile Battersea power station not to mention the Catholic church in Sheringham, and would be a real hassle to get rid of. Yet few people seem to remember what these big red things standing on the roadside are for; or perhaps they do but don’t happen to have a phone card on their person – it doesn’t take real money as somebody might steal it, all £3.20 of it. The thought occurs that, given that removing the box would be such a major headache for BT, we are in a fairly strong bargaining position. We could ask for additional features – a wi-fi hotspot has been suggested – or at the very least a can of paint. What do you think? Answers on a postcard please…

While on the subject of BT, there is much talk of bringing super high speed broadband services to rural areas courtesy of a new fibre-optic network. Because of the expense involved BT require 75% of a community to register their interest before they will consider adding that exchange to their new network. They have set the bar impossibly high; so far the percentage of Cley exchange users registered is 0.84% so we have a little way to go yet. The web-site, should you be interested in registering, is at www.racetoinfinity.bt.com  [website no longer available]. Don’t you just love the rubbish these people come out with? A race to infinity would last an awfully long time. An infinitely long time indeed. Even longer than it currently takes to download a movie or a software update. Sigh.

Anyway, staring at the tea leaves in the bottom of my cup I divine that the next meeting will be on Tuesday 7 December, usual time and place.

Richard Kelham

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