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March 2012 report

No doubt there will be a full report elsewhere from Tony Faulkner following the meeting between various interested parties from the Glaven Valley and Richard Benyon, one of the Environment Ministers. While the Minister made suitable noises I would advise caution – don’t crack open the Champagne just yet – as making suitable noises is what Ministers do when confronted by a delegation of concerned citizens. They then go away and do quite the opposite. Cynical? Moi?

We were favoured with a visit from PCSO Becky Taylor who reported that there had been nine calls to the Police, but no actual crimes committed, in the past four weeks. There is however a possible case of criminal damage to report: we are awaiting a decision from the owners of the property as to whether they wish to proceed with the action. We rather hope they do.

David Young, our District Councillor, reported that the NNDC had passed its budget and that the rate of council tax due to the District council had been frozen – you may still end up paying more if the County or Police budgets require it. You will also be paying more to park your car in Holt, Sheringham and various other places. By contrast the Cley Parish Council precept has been reduced for this year – and no reduction in services! The NNDC have published their Action Plan 2012/3 entitled “Small Government Big Society” which is long on rhetoric, short on details. There is however a very clear indication that the NNDC intend to get rid of as many services as it legally can, outsourcing to the private sector (a proven recipe for disaster) or expecting the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces. You may not be paying any extra council tax, but you’re certainly going to be getting a lot less for your money. In this respect they chime perfectly with the government.

The present mania for privatising everything, and not just the NHS, now looks like it is spreading to the Police. Pretty much any function that is not the sole legal preserve of a warranted police officer is being looked at for outsourcing opportunities, not excluding criminal investigations. Big security companies are lining up to grab a slice of the action, and to make a nice profit at the tax payers’ expense. If these functions can be carried out by (lower paid) civilians wouldn’t it make more sense for the Police to directly employ these people rather than pay a massive premium to a security company? Already the Parish Council has been approached by GSL Dardan through the medium of an expensive glossy brochure offering their services – check out their website for a full list of services, including covert surveillance. Spooky. We declined their offer.

There was a long discussion about the Social Club – and there will need to be further discussions before the next council meeting. But first a bit of background. The Village Hall and the recreation ground is owned by a charitable trust (charity number 1062833 if you’re that interested) and the parish councillors are the Trustees. They delegate the running of the hall to the Committee of Management made up of representatives of the main users of the hall. The Social Club rents the club room from the village hall for three nights a week and has its own committee. What it doesn’t seem to have is many regular users. At a time when pubs are closing down the length and breadth of the country, when people seem to prefer to sit at home drinking supermarket booze rather than socialise, we have to ask the question “is the Social Club viable, or even necessary, any longer?” We know from the state of the bottle bank that there are many stalwart drinkers in this village so if you want to keep the Social Club alive then please use it. If is no longer viable then it will have to close as the Parish Council cannot subsidise it for the sake of a handful of members – that would be a grave misuse of public funds.

There is much excitement about the forthcoming Cley 12 art exhibition and associated workshops coming up in July. The art-show will be in the church (it used to be in Salthouse church) and the workshops in the village hall, a welcome boost at an otherwise quiet time of the year for the hall. It is also planned to have a series of sculptural works alongside the Norfolk Coast Path where it runs behind the beach. And therein lies a snag as several of the proposed works have apparently been vetoed by the NWT. Rumour has it that the NWT were worried about the sculptures falling over in the wind – I could not possibly comment, not least because I’ve not seen the works in question, though from past experience being vandalised by anglers is a far more likely fate. Despite being the recipients of the complaints, the council is not actually involved in this project at all, but we are aware of its value to the reputation of our community and want it to be a success. Culturally North Norfolk is really making great progress: in addition to Cley 12, there’s the Holt Festival, poetry readings, recitals, Open Studios, the Voewood literary festival – that for the well-heeled well-read – not to mention all the galleries and bookshops. Who needs London?

Apart from 8 million or so Londoners…

Richard Kelham

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