Oh dear, it seems the gremlins have returned to take a couple of bites out of the printed version of my report in the Glaven Valley Newsletter. I wrote about ‘Old Etonians’ but somehow, in print, this was rendered as ‘Old Estonians’. Not the same thing at all – as you all know, Estonia is a small sometime state on the Baltic while Eton, which once described itself as the oldest comprehensive school in the country, has educated the cream of England’s boyhood since the 15th century. That’s ‘cream’ as in ‘rich and thick’ if the current government are anything to go by. The gremlins also attacked the last line which was intended to give the origin of the quote about “no good deed going unpunished” but as printed it made no sense at all. No such problems in this online version of course.
Never mind. More blushing was occasioned by the letter in the last GVN from Carole Harvey. Thank you dear lady. I should remind her, and anyone else in like position, that these reports and lots of other goodies are available here on the internet via the Cley Parish Council website: let your mouse do the driving. As for the anthology, someone, who had better remain anonymous (but in the Jackson household is known as ‘Alan’), has even suggested a title – yes it’s “50 Shades of Cley”…
He came, he saw and… he scuttled back to London. Transport Minister Norman Baker paid a visit, at the behest of our MP Norman Lamb, to discuss the problems with funding for the successful CoastHopper bus service. He started by giving a typical politician’s speech wherein everything that was successful was the doing of this government, everything that was a failure that of the opposition. As an example of Government foresight and investment he quoted Crossrail, the new cross-London rail link that was born in, errm, 2001 when Livingston was Mayor and Blair was PM. From the rest of the morning’s activities it was difficult to escape the idea that the Minister’s visit was less about saving CoastHopper and more about saving Norman Lamb.
Returning to the subject of good deeds not going unpunished, Godfrey Sayers and I had our meeting with Steve White, the Area Highways Engineer, about the now notorious sign at the top of Bridgefoot Lane. He had clearly pulled a lot of strings to get the sign erected so it is hard not to feel a little churlish telling him to take it away – like kicking an eager puppy. The good news is that he did agree, through gritted teeth admittedly, to have the sign removed. So we are back to the status quo ante and the County is down a thousand quid or so. If only he’d thought to email us a copy of the proposals.
Look at this. Halfway through and we haven’t even had a meeting. On the designated day we couldn’t muster a quorum so had to postpone for a week. When we did finally meet, our District Councillor, David Young, informed us that, as a result of Norman Baker’s visit, the government would be giving the NCC an extra £100,000 for rural bus services – except that the County is under no obligation to actually use the money for buses. They could for instance use it to fund another 99,000 daft road signs. So we are really no further forward. Any attempt to make bus pass users pay something, anything, towards the cost of their travel would require primary legislation but with Parliament’s timetable already choked with bills to dismantle the NHS, privatise everything in sight and generally to drag England back to the 1930s/Victorian Era/Stone Age (depending on your historical perspective) this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Stand by for cuts in bus services.
The NNDC have finally sorted out what they want to do about council tax relief: everyone “of working age” will have to pay a minimum of eight and a half percent of their council tax – on a typical Band D property this will work out at about £130 per year – a lot of money for those trying to subsist on a very low income. It could have been worse: they were originally planning to charge a minimum of 30% but some extra money from the government plus a reduction in the council tax relief on second homes (they now pay 95%) has enabled them to be slightly more generous. But add to all this the so-called “bedroom tax” and it is clearly ‘hammer the poor’ time. By one of those delicious ironies, all these extra burdens on the poorest families come into force at the beginning of April, the same time that the rich get a 5% cut in their income tax. Clearly, we’re not all in it together.
Yet another communication from the NNDC concerned “The Energy Box”. This scheme, funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, aims to provide each and every Parish Council with information on a wide range of energy issues. The Energy Box will contain a ring binder stuffed with information and advice on such topics as insulation of your home; energy meters, tariffs and billing; financial help with paying bills; renewable energy; staying warm in winter; saving water and something called the Green Deal. The idea is that this Box will be kept in some central location, yet to be decided, and be available for all parishioners to consult. While this seems a good idea on paper (!) I doubt the Energy Box will contain anything one couldn’t find out for oneself with a bit of diligent Googling (other Search Engines are available; one or two of them may even pay their taxes). Further details will be posted on the NNDC website when they are available.
Your Parish Council is very busy – well, the Clerk is, bless her – working on schemes for the proper management of the land on Hilltop, protection of the Village Green from errant/idiot motorists, and of course the clearance and restoration of the old harbour. This latter involves clearing all sorts of bureaucratic hurdles before we can shift so much as a single shovel-full of silt, the latest complication being a claim from the National Trust to own all the harbour below the high water mark! Apparently it was conveyed to them by the Crown Estate, inalienably, back in 1966, since when it has been a well-kept secret. As it is theirs, perhaps they would be willing to make a contribution to the cost?