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October 2012 report

It seems that all the ‘interesting’ stuff happens beyond the actual Council meeting these days; the minutes of the meeting, published on the parish notice board as well as online, can elucidate events at the meeting for the 97.5% of you who were not there, leaving me free to talk about all the things that cropped up after the event. But first a quick word from our local PCSO who emailed a brief message the gist of which was Police 0, Criminals 0. Stand by for the re-play.

Our tree surgeon has come back to us with a list of extensive, not to mention expensive, works that need to be done to the sycamores on the Fairstead to render them safe before the winter storms arrive. At the time of writing he has all the necessary permissions from the NNDC Tree Officer so all he needs is for this council to agree to pay him. Don’t worry, we will get the work done. The dead trees in the grounds of Cley Hall have now been felled, at the owner’s expense.

The suggestion has been made that the rusty old turret set into the bank not far from our flood gate – in reality a rare wartime survival – ought to have a sign erected explaining its use and historical significance, if only to stop the ‘plebs’ from using it as a litter bin, or worse. The suggested wording is:

THIS IS NOT A LITTER BIN. It is an ALLAN-WILLIAMS TURRET see www.pillbox-study-group.org.uk  Please  do not dishonour the memory of the brave men who would have been willing to man it in the event of an invasion by throwing your rubbish in it.

which I think does the job very well. Do you agree?

There are many complaints about the state of the road leading to the quay. The potholes grow ever larger making it hard going for owners of anything smaller than a Centurian tank, or at least a large 4×4. Quite apart from any other hazard, this is deeply undemocratic as us plebs can’t afford to run a tank. This is an adopted road so the responsibility for its upkeep rests squarely on the County Council’s shoulders; unfortunately our county councillor is unwell so unable to do much about this situation so it seems our only recourse is for as many people as possible to complain, in writing, either direct to the Highways Department in Aylsham or via the Parish council. There’s no guarantee anything will be done, especially now that council budgets are being severely squeezed by that maniac in No.11, but we can at least make sure that your pain is shared! Meanwhile I would recommend that pedestrians not in possession of a stout pair of wellies take one of the alternative routes to the quay.

While in that area, I would like to thank the public-spirited resident who repaired/replaced the vandalised railings alongside the road to the ramp at his own expense. Thank you M…


Large puddle in the Quay approach road with appropriate safety measures. Nice railings… (photo by John Gubb)

Housing is an issue that won’t go away, so it was with much interest, if little hope, that I attended a meeting at Cromer to discuss the proposed changes to the NNDC Housing Allocation policy on the 8 October. The claim was that the new Localism Bill would give councils more flexibility in their approach, though their statutory duty to house the homeless is not altered in any way. The main problem in the social housing sector has been too many applicants chasing too few properties, a situation made many times worse by the corrupt policies of the Thatcher government, perpetuated by the Major, Blair and Cameron governments just to show that stupidity is not necessarily party-political. In North Norfolk, in very round figures, in any one year there are some 4,000 families on the housing waiting list but only about 400 properties become vacant. The brilliant solution being proposed is to throw 90% of the applicants off the waiting list. Simples, or the sort of answer only a demented meerkat could produce. The 3,600 or so ejectees wouldn’t just be told to go away, they would be put on another list to be called the “Housing Options Register”, but, given that their chances of being allocated a property in the social housing sector would be vanishingly small, their ‘options’ would appear to be very limited: the hideously expensive and often insecure private rented sector, even more expensive owner occupation, or of course FO&D. All this palaver changes nothing that actually matters: not one extra family will be housed, nothing will be done to better match successful applicants to their communities.

To be fair, local councils are not responsible for our wildly dysfunctional housing market where prices are three times what they should be, they merely have to deal with the fall-out – like many more homeless people and a massive increase in the Housing Benefit bill. There are many other proposals being put forward such as limiting the duration of a tenancy to five years and probationary periods for new tenants which would make it easier to be rid of ‘over successful’ tenants as well as the ‘anti-social’ ones, but I will not go through them all here – you might lose the will to live – as they are supposed to be going out for consultation at some stage. The good news is that there are no plans to water down the local lettings agreement for homes built under the ‘exceptions policy’ outside of normal permitted areas, indeed it might be extended to people on the Housing Options Register in the unlikely event of them ever being offered a property. Meanwhile some private rental properties are to be added to the ‘Your Choice Your Home’ website run by the NNDC as part of its housing allocation system. Ho hum.

Now the party political conference season is over we can all heave a sigh of relief and return to business as usual, which in the case of Cley Parish Council is Tuesday 6 November at 7.30pm, assuming the place hasn’t been burnt down in a misguided attempt to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Great Fire of Cley.

 Richard Kelham

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1 Response to October 2012 report

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