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May 2014 report

The problem of tourists parking on the Coast Road and creating a danger for vehicles trying to leave the Old Hall Barns area may be nearer a solution. The Highways engineers were consulted and have suggested a possible solution. Clearly yellow lines are not the answer – they are unsightly and extremely complicated and expensive to obtain – but the white ‘H’ bar approach could work. These white lines are like an ‘H’ with minuscule uprights and a veeerrrry looonnnng crossbar. They could be applied to the gutter in the affected area quickly and cheaply and would have much the same effect as yellow lines in that anyone parking there could be prosecuted. This seems to be the answer to that particular problem, and is so much more civilised than bulldozing the errant vehicles into the creek. It had been suggested.

A rather more intractable problem is our neighbour the sea. When the flood tide broke through the bank and inundated the Blakeney Freshes back in December it did considerable damage to that bank. In response to pressure from various bodies, the Environment Agency has spent some money patching it up sufficiently for the Long Distance Footpath to be safely reinstated; this work falls far short of what would be required to restore it to pre-flood condition which leaves it vulnerable to further breaches especially in view of very high tides predicted for around the vernal equinox. As the Shoreline Management Plan envisages giving up the Freshes in the medium term, allowing the land to revert to saltmarsh by actually demolishing a section of the bank near the Carnser, there is no budget allocation for repairing it in the meantime. A meeting with various interested parties has been called for 21 May to discuss this very issue. I will just point out that giving the Freshes back to the sea could have advantages as well as disadvantages. Besides, the sea is one neighbour you really can’t argue with.

The NNDC also spent money on mopping up after the December storm surge. Over £1million was disbursed, of which £765,000 has been reimbursed through the EA leaving a shortfall of a quarter of a million or so to come out of reserves. As Cameron said “money is no object” except, it seems, when it comes to fully compensating local councils. You may care to remember this government’s parsimoniousness next May when the General Election circus comes to town.

Our policeman – there is now only the one Constable between here and Holkham – reports that there were six calls to the Police last month: one assault, one ‘domestic’ and one case of harassment reported. Whether these incidents were connected was not divulged.

I first came here thirty years ago – no time at all in the general scheme of things but long enough for me to witness the last dying spasms of Cley as a living, working community. While it has always had a touch of ‘Cambridge-next-the-Sea’, Cley is not as bad as Burnham Market, awash with braying Hoorays, but it is fair to say that what remains of the old community subsists mainly by serving the needs of tourists and property speculators. Some of our second home owners are as active in the community as they can be – and they are welcomed with open arms – but many are not. Some houses are left empty for most of the year, quietly mouldering way – yet absurdly still appreciating in value. There was a time at the height of the property boom when you could come home after a hard day’s work to find that your house had ‘earned’ more than you had. How mad is that? Far too much of this country’s capital wealth is tied up in unproductive assets like houses rather than factories. New slogan for our times (which I dedicate to Colin M): “the only good Tory is a Laboratory”!

How can the community be helped to come together once more? Usually it takes an existential threat from outside like invasion from across the water (no, not Blakeney; not this time). Just occasionally it can be an internal threat like the imminent loss of most of the Village Hall Committee, most of whom will have stood down at the AGM on the 20 May. OK, a bit of hyperbole there, but it is true the Village Hall Committee does need fresh blood urgently – see the advert elsewhere in this issue. The Village Hall is arguably one of the greatest achievements of the old community of Cley who largely funded and built it themselves for the benefit of this community. All of it. But it doesn’t run itself.

The next meeting of the Cley Parish Council will be held on Tuesday 3 June starting at 7.30pm. It will be held as usual in the Club Room at the rear of, yes you guessed, the Village Hall.


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