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Cley post box

April 2014 report

Another full house! Could this be the best free show in town? Or indeed the only free show in town. Slowly the village is returning to its usual somnolent state as the army of contractors pack up their gear and move on. Church Lane is open once more after a mere fourteen months. It’s not pretty but it works. Now if we could just persuade the Church, or English Heritage, to fund the work, the bare concrete face could be covered in nice native flints. Also, the lane down to the Quay has been surfaced after many years of nagging and is now lovely and smooth. Let’s see how long it lasts.

The work in the Deli car park will be long finished by the time you read this. The Chief Engineer was very proud of the fact that they managed to do the job in only seven weeks rather than the projected twelve. This is great news for Picnic Fayre and other businesses but perhaps less good news for the Village Hall which had a nice little earner hiring out a part of their car park for the contractor’s equipment compound. The big black box plonked unceremoniously by the car park entrance is also not good news.

Our District Councillor, David Young, reported on the world seen through the eyes of the NNDC – a pretty dystopian place it seems. Recently the Joint Staff Consultative Committee at the NNDC recommended that the council should, as a minimum, pay the ‘Living Wage’ of £7.65 per hour in preference to the Statutory Minimum Wage which is currently a very miserly £6.31 per hour. Despite this Tory-led government’s rhetoric about “making work pay” (which it clearly doesn’t when all you get is £6.31 an hour) the (Tory) cabinet at Cromer refused to pass on the recommendation to the next full council meeting; it is estimated that there are just two employees directly employed by the NNDC who are paid below the ‘living wage’ which makes their parsimoniousness even more difficult to comprehend.

Apparently the Environment Agency are not going to do anything about the shingle ridge which will continue to be overtopped by the highest tides. Fortunately the new sluices have shown they are up to the job of draining off the extra water reasonably quickly so it should not have too deleterious an effect on the salinity gradient of the bird reserve at least in the medium term. The EA also state that the shingle bank will migrate inland over time – well yes, it’s been doing that for hundreds of years now and I don’t see any reason for it to stop. Still, it’s nice to have the experts from the EA confirm it.

We recently had a visit from Brandon Lewis MP, who is Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government – a splendid title which probably boils down to his being responsible for making sure Pickles has a regular supply of buns. He came to discuss the impact of the December floods and the budgetary effects on local authorities in the area. Needless to say he didn’t trouble himself with parish councils so I cannot comment on what impressions, if any, he took away with him. On the subject of the floods, I have been given a few application forms for Flood Support Scheme grants for those parishioners whose property was damaged in the storm of 5/6 December 2013. “These grants are limited, discretionary and evidence of work will be required” it says. Contact me on 740186 if you want a form.

The phone box after the 'bomber' and before the BT engineer arrived.

The phone box after the ‘bomber’ and before the BT engineer arrived.

One positive bit of news. Further to last month’s report of the explosion in the phone box, BT engineers came out and replaced the glass (with perspex) though they have shown no inclination to slap on a coat of paint. This has finally prompted the NNDC to put the box onto the Buildings at Risk Register which will enable more pressure to be brought to bear. Travelling around the country I have not noticed a phone box anywhere that has seen a paint brush for at least fifteen years – except those within a corgi walk of a royal residence which are all immaculate. Fancy that.

Michael Baker, our county councillor, reported that a decision to cancel the King’s Lynn incinerator project is imminent. This will of course trigger massive penalty payments and other costs of up to £35 million – the exact figure may depend on the exchange rate as the idiots who negotiated and signed this agreement accepted that the contract would be denominated in US $ and thus subject to the vagaries of currency movements, hedging against which is believed to have cost £8 million alone. The EDP calculated that this debacle would cost every household £91, yet no-one has been sacked, surcharged or even put on the naughty step. One thing is certain: the name of Cory Wheelabrator should never be heard again in this county, not even in jest.

Shock! Horror! A dope fiend apprehended on Cley beach! He was given a fixed penalty notice and presumably a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Those of you desperate for more frequent crime updates, not that there is much to update you about, can sign up to the Police Direct service by going to https://policedirect.norfolk.police.uk/registration/ and registering. Advice on property marking can be had from the Wells SNT.

Plants in the lokes? Oh yes. We agreed, without too much agonising, that flowers were fine, especially annuals, but that trees and woody shrubs were not. Any planting must be managed and the footpath itself not obstructed. Thank you to the members of the audience who so eloquently aided our deliberations. Can we please now move on.

The next Parish Council meeting will be held in the Village Hall Club Room on Tuesday 6 May 2014. It will be preceded by the Annual Parish Meeting which will start at 7.30pm. The Chairman’s Annual Report to this meeting follows this post.

Richard Kelham

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