No sooner had we set our precept of £8000 for next year than word came from the District Council that we had to reduce it to £7428. The balance would be made up by a grant of £562 from the NNDC, funded by a payment from the government as part of their attempt to control council tax rates and thereby further undermine local democracy. This particular bit of sleight of hand will reduce the typical council tax bill in Cley by no more than a couple of quid a year, though, as the money will come from general taxation, we will end up paying for it somewhere along the line.
In a further announcement from Humpty Numpty at the Department for Communities and Local Government we have another prize example of this government’s rhetoric – I’ll quote in full from the DCLG website: “We have also changed the rules so hard working council residents can choose to pay their annual bills online or spread their payments over 12 months instead of 10. These sensible measures will make paying easier giving tax payers a little more room for manoeuvre and bring down their monthly outgoings by around £24 for most of the year.” What they don’t say is that this raises their outgoings by a whopping £120 in both February and March. And what’s that about hard working residents? Does that mean this option is not available for no-longer hard working pensioners? Only asking.
Responding to local pressure to do something about the underfunding of the CoastHopper bus service, our MP Norman Lamb has followed up an earlier meeting by arranging for his fellow Liberal Democrat Norman Baker MP, who is a Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Transport (and unusually for this government, not an old Etonian), to pay a visit and see for himself. Not sure quite what he will see as bus passengers at this time of year are as rare as pink-footed geese, and anyway the funding problem is due to a refusal by his department to fully reimburse the bus company for the use of concessionary passes, particularly during the very busy summer months. Previous correspondence with him has not been exactly helpful so I have no compunction in revealing that his visit is set for the 24 January if you want to go and browbeat him. I nearly missed the chance to meet him – for some reason Lamb’s email ended up in my Spam folder. Perhaps the computer knows more than I do?
As an aside, one is frequently left with the impression that the Department for Transport would be rather more accurately known as the Department against Transport.
Another site meeting you will have missed has been arranged between representatives of Cley and Wiveton Parish Councils and Steve White of the Highways Department to discuss the new sign at the junction of Bridgefoot Lane and Holt Road. Wiveton PC have been at pains to point out that all they wanted was the re-siting of the existing sign in a more sensible position. Steve White performed a minor miracle in conjuring up the money to pay for the new sign which, as a Wiveton parish councillor wryly remarked, goes to show once again that no good deed goes unpunished*. Should be an interesting discussion. We would of course far rather the money had been spent on ameliorating the condition of the Quay road. Oh yeah, that’s another site meeting coming up. Or just gone.
On the subject of computers, Holt Medical Practice will be installing a new system. The existing system will be terminated on the 14 February – they are presumably not hoping for a re-run of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre – and the new system is scheduled to be up and running from the 25 February. In between times they will be running a limited service that will be restricted to emergency on-the-day appointments. I dare say a more detailed (and accurate) account of the changes will appear in the February issue of the Glaven Valley Newsletter, which is just as well as there is no sign of any of it on their website http://www.holt-practice.nhs.uk where the latest item on the News page is dated April 2011! By the way, the new system has a name: Emis Web. Speculation is rife as to what this presumed acronym could mean: first suggestions are ‘Extreme misery in store’ or perhaps ‘Exterminate men in slacks’. Any further ideas should not be sent to the lovely people at Holt Medical Practice.
There are still a few allotment plots available. These are rather overgrown at the moment though we are planning to have them treated and ploughed in the near future. Do not be put off by this as ‘pioneering’ new tenants have their first year’s rent waived. The planting season is approaching, or so I’m told – if there’s an opposite to ‘green fingers’ (black thumb?) then I’ve got it. Even house plants shrivel and die when I enter a room. If you are interested in a bit of healthy exercise and lots of lovely fresh fruit and veg, then contact Di Dann on 01328 878196. Go on, you know you want to.
*it’s a line from the musical “Wicked” (though Gore Vidal probably said it first) should anyone be remotely interested.