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February 2011 Report

No sooner had I exhorted you all to rip your clothes off and stuff them into the Salvation Army clothes bank due to appear in the car park soon, than a story appears in the press denouncing the whole thing as a rip-off of an entirely different kind. Good timing, not. It seems the sharp operator running the scheme for the Sally Ann has so fixed the contract that he gets to cream off a third of the proceeds – a cool £10 million over the last five years. That he has a seat on the board of the Salvation Army’s trading company SATCoL goes some way to explaining how he was able to get such a sweet deal but should raise a few eyebrows at the Charity Commissioners as it is most definitely not best practice. The SA defend it on the grounds that they received £16 million over the same period, but they ignore the fact that, with a less rapacious partner, they could have made perhaps £20 million to support their work in the community.

This was discussed at the last meeting and, while we have no plans to tell the SA to recycle their clothes somewhere else, we do think parishioners should be aware of the situation and make up their own minds. There are other clothing banks in the area but of course we have no way of finding out what sort of deal Scope et al have with their contractors. They could be getting royally ripped off too. Oh what a sad world we live in. By the way, anyone wondering where the bottle bank has gone, it’s gone round the bend, literally, where it is less of an eyesore and where you can now empty your bottles without blocking the entrance to the car park.

Having, reluctantly, told BT to recycle their red telephone box, a couple of public-spirited residents have come forward with an offer to sponsor the box as a proper working telephone. We have passed the good news onto BT who have not as yet replied. Why doesn’t this surprise me? First request: a fresh coat of paint and a new lightbulb.

On the subject of sponsorship, we are sponsoring some of the drink and nibbles for the re-launch of the Cley Social Club on the evening of the 4 March. Council-tax payers are therefore encouraged to go along and get their money’s worth. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourselves.

The 27 March is Census Day, your chance to sit down and be counted. Unlike 1991 when millions ‘disappeared’ because of the hated Poll Tax, this year there is no reason not to be counted; the information is necessary both for planning the allocation of resources in the near future and for providing material for family historians a hundred years from now. That’s assuming there will be any family historians in a hundred years from now, or indeed any resources to be allocated four years hence.

So far as I know the cuts to the Police budget don’t kick in until April, but already they’ve stopped coming to our meetings – perhaps someone else needed the bicycle that evening. They did however send a suitably terse report stating that there had been no crimes reported, but that there had been a ”suspicious incident” reported. What can they mean? Did a Sanders bus arrive on time? What happened? Answers were not forthcoming.

Answers may or may not be forthcoming at the Rotary Club’s Annual Community Lunch to be held at the Community Centre, Holt, on 12 April. One of the speakers will be Norman Lamb MP who, as Charles Simeons reminded us last month, is aide to the Deputy Prime Minister and as such “has the ear of Ministers”. This brings us to this month’s big question: which Minister’s ear would you like to have? And where would you like to stick it? We’ll have to exclude Humpty Numpty as he doesn’t appear to have any ears.

Here is yet another reminder that elections are due to be held on Thursday 5 May for all District and Parish council seats. There may or may not also be a referendum on the adoption of the Alternative Vote system for future elections. AV is not perfect – just better than the present system of First Past The Post which is more suited to Fakenham Racecourse than the hustings. Of course for Cley Parish council it’s First Seven Past The Post which is much better – as long as you have at least seven candidates. With perhaps three of the existing members standing down there is a need for fresh blood. You may be dismayed to know that I will not be standing down after all; after twenty years of frustration I finally have the feeling that it is possible to get things done. Anyone who wants to share that feeling should contact the Clerk, Di Dann, on 01328 878196 (afternoons) to arrange for nomination papers to be obtained.

The next meeting of the parish council will be held on Tuesday 1 March. The wearing of daffoldils is not compulsory this far east.

Richard Kelham

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