A full complement of Parish Councillors made it to the meeting, hangovers apparently being confined to our District and County Councillors who sent their apologies. The Police also made an appearance in the form of PCSO Becky Taylor (congratulations on your award) and one of her colleagues. They came in together but took up positions on opposite sides of the room; whether this was for tactical operational reasons or something more personal I would not like to speculate. There had been seven calls to the Police in the last month, one involving yet another traffic accident on the Holt Road as some poor driver took an unexpectedly close interest in our herbaceous borders. The only ‘crime’ was someone being booked for growing cannabis. It was hinted that someone had grassed him up…
Your Council is planning to have a working party assemble on Sunday 18 March to make a start on cleaning up the quay area. Let’s face it, it is in dire need of a bit of tender loving care, and this Council is responsible. At the very least we want to get rid of excessive undergrowth, reeds and self-seeded trees. Volunteers should contact the Clerk, Di Dann, on 01328 878196 (afternoons only) to arrange times and protective clothing. All this is weather permitting of course.
The Clerk has, on our behalf, sent a letter to Richard Beynon, the Environment Minister responsible for the Marine Conservation Zone Reference Areas re-iterating our concerns over the lack of consultation with local stakeholders and the general unsuitability of the chosen areas. This lot seem to listen even less than the previous ones so I won’t be holding my breath for a positive outcome; the effort has to be made nonetheless.
A parishioner has been asked to help reduce the population of moles currently ravaging the Village Green – yes I know the poor moles have to live somewhere, just not on our Green, please. So far he reports that he hasn’t taken a single mole though he has caught a couple of 4x4s. Let us hope they were humanely destroyed.
The big story of the month surfaced some days after the Council meeting: an article in the North Norfolk News commented on a report by End Child Poverty which showed that genteel, prosperous Holt had a surprisingly high rate of children living in homes with an income below 60% of average earnings (the current definition of poverty) – indeed at 24% it was the highest in North Norfolk and second only to Norwich in Norfolk. Holt Town Council has been aware of the problem for some time (the survey was done back in 2006 so not exactly hot news) and recently commissioned a Vision study into ways they could ameliorate the situation. The study’s suggestions – ignore the ideas to prettify the town centre – centred around training for young people and the hopes of enhanced employment on the expanded industrial estate. But the main problems of low wages and the high cost of shopping would seem to be intractable. Next in the list was North Walsham (East ward) on 23% – a little less surprising given the loss of several major employers over the last few years.
What has this to do with Cley? Believe it or not, and it wasn’t mentioned in the NNN article, in third place with a 22% child poverty rate was… Cley ward. OK, so Cley ward includes Salthouse, Kelling and the stews of Weybourne, but this is a sobering realisation. There is very little that a parish council, or even four parish councils working as a team, can do to remedy such a situation as it has insufficient resources to counter the failings of the welfare state and neo-liberal capitalism, especially since current government policies – abolishing Education Maintenance Allowance, cuts in child tax benefits, abolition of youth services – seem designed to make this situation even worse. Time for some very creative thinking.
PS: Don’t forget the High Street will be closed for resurfacing works from Monday 23 January for five days. The first two days will see the junction between the High Street and New Road resurfaced while Anglia Water dig up the road further down. The last three days will involve the closure from near the George to the Old Hall.