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February 2012 report

At the time of writing we seem to be about to opt out of the frigid European weather we’ve had for the last few weeks in favour of a more Atlanticist style – wet and windy, but warmer. Ah, the joys of only having to wear one pullover at a time. The snow arrived as predicted, tarried for the weekend, then all but disappeared again leaving only icy patches and a vague sense of disappointment. By midnight on Saturday Cley High Street had been transformed by a blanket of virgin snow – until some very late night revellers chewed it all up. By Monday morning the road was clear as was the Holt Road, a bone of much contention in past winters.

An emailed briefing from NCC Highways reported that they had gritted all Priority 1 & 2 routes on the Saturday afternoon (just to remind you: Cley High Street is P1, the Blakeney-Letheringsett road is P2, the Holt Road P3) prior to the arrival of the snow, then ploughed these routes during the night to clear the snow and asked their farmer contacts to help clear the minor roads. The Highways Department gritters then moved onto P3 routes before once again gritting all the P1/2 routes in the evening and the following morning, after which they were to turn to “key footways”. As a broad picture that may have been the case, but it is clear they did nothing to the A149 through Cley until Sunday afternoon (see Sunday morning photo ) though it would seem to be true that they did grit the Holt Road as it was totally clear by Monday morning, which it would not have been without some sort of intervention. Talking of intervention, a big thank you to the public-spirited resident who gritted the top of Town Yard; that is a tricky junction when it’s icy. While there is still the risk of ice, drivers should exercise care, especially on the Holt Road which probably won’t be gritted again this winter. Caveat rector. No Neil, not you.

Don’t forget our Community Clear Up Day (see poster), Sunday 18 March, kick off 10am, when we hope to get some volunteers to help us clear up the Quay area which is looking a bit of a mess. Since the Parish Council restored the quay wall and dredged part of the channel back in 1995, the area has become very overgrown and untidy. We will have to address the encroachment of the reed bed at some point, but for now we will concentrate on clearing self-seeded trees, grass and weeds. Boats and cars will need to be moved while work is in progress, though they can be moved back as soon as we’ve finished. Volunteers please contact Di Dann on 01328 878196 for details of what you need to bring. Who knows, it could even be fun.

In the ongoing battle for the village green the latest casualty figures are: moles 2, 4x4s 3. On another front, the Police emailed a report of the latest crime figure – a burglary at a house on Hilltop. A disturbing new trend is that this home is permanently occupied which might be an indication that burglars are prepared to take more risks. Anecdotally the number of crimes committed in this area seems to be on the increase. As unemployment and relative poverty are also rising – and Police budgets and officer numbers are falling – this upward trend in crime is likely to continue, which means that the easy-going ways of the country will need to be replaced by a touch of urban paranoia: keep everything of value out of sight or locked away, and keep your insurance premiums up to date. Sad.

David Young, our District Councillor, told us about the possibility of a parcel of land in Salthouse, owned by the NCC, becoming available for social housing development by Broadland Housing Association. BHA were responsible for the Oddfellows Close development in Blakeney and also have four properties here in Cley, leased from the BNHS, so they are a known and reputable social landlord. If this scheme does get built then the properties would become available under the NNDC local lettings policy which would mean that Cley residents on the housing waiting list would be in with a good chance of being offered one.

Not so clever is the decision of the NNDC to dispose of their stock of sandbags. The bags have been offered to parishes up and down the coast on a first come, first served basis, after which there will be no more available. The last time we needed sandbags was in 1992 when we were all rudely awoken at 4 o’clock on a Sunday morning by the flood sirens wailing; a northerly gale was blowing the sleet almost horizontally down the High Street and a surge tide was expected imminently, so we were very glad to see the council lorry pull up with a load of sandbags which were used to augment flood boards and to protect all low-lying properties. In the event the rising waters stopped rising a few inches short of the top of the sea wall and we were safe. Since then the sea defences have been strengthened, and the sirens removed, so we felt we had no need of a stock of sandbags. Besides, like most villages along this coast we have neither a suitable place to store the bags – if not properly stored they rot and become useless – nor the means to distribute them in times of need. Since the NNDC is still legally responsible for flood protection they would seem to be placing themselves in potential dereliction of their duties. My joy at the thought of them being one day prosecuted for this is tempered only by the knowledge that any fine levied would end up being paid by us, the tax payers. Definitely nul points for that one.

Richard Kelham

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