It seems the County Council in their wisdom classify the Quay Road as a “soft road” under their route hierarchy scheme. I have made many scathing remarks about this scheme in the past and won’t waste your time repeating them, but it was a cackhanded and expensive attempt to bring some sort of order to the road system of this county. Anyway, “soft road” it is and, they are obdurate, “soft road” it will remain. I was a little unkind to John Perry-Warnes last time when I stated that he had done nothing to change this when there really is nothing he could have done. Now that council budgets are even more constrained than usual there really is no hope of anything useful being done. That said, my advice is do not use this road unless you are driving a suitable, off-road, vehicle. Or a tank. If you do use it, and something nasty happens, send your writ to County Hall. It’s nothing to do with us.
The November meeting is when we set the budget – and thus the precept – for the following financial year. As the government slashes the funds available to local councils more and more responsibility gets passed down the line to lower tiers of authority. Since parishes are at the bottom of this particular food chain we get lumbered. Our parishioners still want the grass cut, trees lopped and the assets maintained (so do we, by the way) so our costs go up. With that very much in mind we have decided that next year the precept will have to go back up to £8,000 to avoid having to make deeper inroads into our reserves.
One of the assets we have to maintain is the Beach Shelter, currently awaiting some increasingly urgent roof repairs. It takes quite a battering from the elements, especially in winter, but its care is a burden we can carry – at least until the next major storm. The last storm left it half buried in shingle and minus part of its roof; the next one may be more cataclysmic still so we will have to ask ourselves at what point do we abandon the unequal struggle? Meanwhile it is a well-used facility, particularly by our bird watching friends, though I suspect it no longer qualifies as the Cley Hilton now that the kitchens have been demolished. Room service is terrible. The beach shelter was erected to celebrate an occasion – in my mind it was the formation of the left wing Popular Front in France, which went on to win the 1936 election in economic conditions not unlike our own, but in reality it was something really boring like the jubilee of some King or other.
One other asset – not ours this time – is the telephone box in the High Street. This is still the responsibility of BT, and despite it being a listed ‘building’, it seems to be a responsibility they are determined to shirk. The idea has been floated that the Parish Council repaint it and send them the bill. It has also been suggested that we repaint it in something other than the official Post Office Red: suggestions as to colours are welcome. It would be interesting to see how long it took for them to notice…
There have been reports of rats on the allotments. As to employ a professional vermin controller would cost a lot of money, or all our children, and make a huge dent in the allotments account it is proposed that the Allotment Association put down bait boxes themselves. There are rules about dogs being kept on a leash when crossing the allotments – any owner who flouts these rules and whose dog is consequently poisoned has only themselves to blame. I’ll repeat that for the hard of hearing: DOGS MUST BE ON A LEASH WHEN USING THE PATH ACROSS THE ALLOTMENTS. OK? Cats, I’m afraid, will have to shift for themselves, though we can probably rely on their natural epicureanism to keep them safe.
PC Jason Pegden gave us a brief report: there had been six calls logged on the 101 number, none of which recorded a crime, plus there was one ‘domestic’ dispute – no details given so we don’t know whether it was one of our regulars. No doubt the grapevine will provide enlightenment eventually. Meanwhile, if there are complaints about loud music being played at all hours, for (expletive deleted) sake report it to the Environmental Health people on 01263 516085. Unless they receive complaints no action can be taken. If a Noise Abatement Order is issued and this is subsequently infringed the EH crew can confiscate all the offending equipment. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Our District Councillor, David Young, gave an outline of the proposed changes to Council Tax Benefit next year; the scheme is not yet finalised though there is a downloadable leaflet available from the NNDC website which gives details of the likely changes. What is certain is that Council Tax Benefit will be abolished and replaced by Council Tax Support. What is the difference? About £1.175 million. This is the sum the government has taken from its support for NNDC – well, they have to cover the cost of tax cuts for the rich somehow and what better way than taking money from the poor, none of whom went to Eton – but the NNDC have been left to work out how they are going to spread the pain. It seems they want to protect pensioners, a large part of the North Norfolk demographic, so the bulk of the cuts will fall on the low paid workers and the unemployed. Don’cha just luv ‘em!
There had been a lot of fly-tipping on the bonfire site, not all of it suitably flammable material. As one of the items discarded was an old gas-fired barbecue, there had been fears that there might even be discarded canisters there. In the event, things went off with a bang – but not that big a bang – and a good time was had by all. All except our cats who hid under the bed until it was all over. Please, please, do not treat the next bonfire night celebration as a fly-tipping free-for-all.
On that, by now rather less, seasonal note may I just remind you that the next meeting of the Cley Parish Council will be on Tuesday 4 December at the usual time and place. No rockets please.