Greetings from the new Parish Council which, to be fair, doesn’t look all that different to the old council – but then the same could be said for the audience. We said farewell and thanks to Jennifer Murray, a stalwart member of the council for many years, including eight as my able vice-chairman, and to Jean Baker who sadly has since died.
Please welcome on board Councillors Richard High, better known to most of you as Bruno, and Siemon Scamell-Katz. I hope they will enjoy their time on the council. It is ironic, given the trouble we had to try to get a full slate for the elections, that there have been several expressions of interest in the vacancy that exists on the council – if only they’d thought about it earlier we could have had a proper election. It wouldn’t have cost more than £750. If you want to add your name to the list of candidates to fill the vacancy I have a spare form – collect it from me at ‘Made in Cley’ or contact Di Dann. Mrs Dann, who spent last year as our Acting Clerk, has now been confirmed in office as our substantive Clerk. And very glad we are to have her. Details of the new Council and its members will be published on the notice board in the usual way, and from June we hope also on our new website at www.cleyparishcouncil.org.uk.
All councillors, new or old, have to sign various forms accepting their office and declaring any interests, financial or otherwise, that might have an impact on their position as members of the council. We don’t need to know that you’re an avid bird watcher, but we do need to know if you’re a member of the NWT or Cley Bird Club. Likewise if a councillor is in receipt of hospitality worth more than £25 this also has to be declared; generally speaking we’re lucky to get more than a cup of lukewarm coffee but being squeaky clean is not enough, we need to be seen to be squeaky clean. This information is kept by the Standards Board for England which monitors the behaviour of all councillors, including the big boys, and strives to maintain an open and honest system of governance. Which is presumably why the Con-Dem coalition government wants to abolish it.
We met our new District Councillor, David Young, but he didn’t have a lot to say as his council had yet to meet. If you have any District-sized problems you wish him to deal with, his phone number is 01263 588568. Our County Councillor, John Perry-Warnes, was also present and banging on about the new 4×4 fire engines that are supposed to be on their way, sirens blaring, as I write. The new Fire Station being built at Sheringham will have room for two appliances and a room over the shop so they will have an excuse to erect a shiny pole for the men to slide down when the alarm goes. This new station is being built by Tesco as recompense for the existing one being demolished to make way for their unwanted new supermarket. Whether there will ever be a second appliance at the new Sheringham Fire Station, or indeed, given the depth of the proposed cuts, even a first appliance remains to be seen. Meanwhile, careful with those matches.
There was no report from the Police this month, indeed most months. In part no doubt this is due to a general reluctance on the part of the residents to commit crimes – we rely on our visitors to do that sort of thing for us – though it may also be that these sophisticated urban coppers don’t like to venture out of the busy city streets of Wells and into the wilds of the countryside at night. They do respond to emails though, so there is at least a virtual copper there.
One local, home-grown, crime has been in the back of our minds for the past year or so. The investigation into the malfeasance of our previous Clerk has culminated in her pleading guilty to six specimen charges of fraud: she is due to be sentenced at a hearing in June. Meanwhile the Financial Ombudsman is looking into our complaint against Barclays Bank – more news on that when it is available. It seems bank bosses are so obsessed with the size of their bonuses they have completely lost sight of the needs of their customers who, when they’re not being ignored, are being royally ripped off.
At the time of writing there has still been no appreciable rainfall to test out the new drainage system installed on the Fairstead in early March and drought looms. Perhaps it is time to make obeisance to the Rain Gods by performing the importantgameofcricket ritual?
Rain or no rain, the next meeting of the Cley Parish Council will be held on Tuesday 7 June at 7pm. Yes, we’re back to the usual ‘first Tuesday’ routine just in case anyone was confused by last month’s switch.