August is traditionally known as the ‘silly season’ as Parliament is in recess, MPs and journalists are all off on their holidays, the PM is pointing at fish again – it seems to be a hobby of his – and newspapers are traditionally desperate for something to fill their pages. Obviously Fleet Street no longer controls the world’s news, indeed it no longer even controls Fleet Street, so chaps in foreign parts can carry on fighting their nasty little wars, August or no August.
Cley Parish Council is also in recess so this report, there being no meeting to report on, could end up with more padding than a transvestite’s bra. That’s not to say nothing is happening. Oh no. As a response to the report on the helicopter crash back in January, we are organising a petition to try to persuade the Ministry of Defence to extend the existing year-round no-fly zone over the Blakeney Point National Nature Reserve to cover the whole of the NWT Reserve at Cley and Salthouse. We do not want to be thought of as shroud wavers but it is clear from the report that the USAF aircrew were using advice from the MoD that was fatally flawed. This Parish has long maintained that low flying aircraft, particularly rotary winged types, and bird reserves don’t mix, something that ought to be blindingly obvious to all sentient beings, but clearly is not to the MoD. This is likely our best chance of getting a change of policy so I hope as many people as possible will sign this petition. Our MP, Norman Lamb, has agreed to present the result to the Minister responsible. But not until they’re back from their holidays of course.
Several people have expressed disquiet at the appearance of some new houses of unabashedly ‘modern’ design in the village. Should we try to preserve the village, architecturally at least, in some kind of cultural aspic, or should it continue to reflect the changing style of domestic buildings through the centuries, past, present and future? Our District Councillor, David Young, has set up a public meeting with some brave Planning Officers from the NNDC to discuss this matter further. It is to be held in Cley Village Hall on Wednesday the 10 September, starting at 7.00pm and is open to councillors and members of the public from neighbouring parishes too. The Chairman will of course observe strict neutrality.
Which brings me to Godfrey Sayers’ letter in last month’s Glaven Valley Newsletter. My reports in the GVN and on this website are a chance to let my hair down – or would be if I had any left – and to try to point out events or policies that could affect our community, leavened with as much humour as can be wrung out of usually very unpromising material. My comments are small ‘p’ political because by definition everything “of, for or relating to citizens” is political. Even denying it is so is a political act. I am not a member of any political party – I doubt any of them would have me – so I have no particular axe to grind, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling the urge, while watching the parade go by, to point out as loudly as possible that not only the Emperor but his entire retinue are indeed stark naked. It’s not a pretty sight.
We cannot do much about climate change or global overpopulation, say, but there are things we can influence: like helicopters falling out of our skies, like the wanton destruction of our wonderful NHS, even the general malice, mendacity and corruption of those who rule over us. For instance, the continuing domination of the tenets of ‘classical’ economics, the system that has just delivered the longest recession in centuries and which continues intentionally to increase the wealth of the very rich at the expense of everyone else, needs to be attacked. Any neoliberal headbanger who, presented with all the evidence to the contrary, still thinks that a large corporation, which is legally obliged to put the interests of its shareholders above all else, is best placed to disinterestedly deliver vital public services such as health, energy, even the mail, is clearly several marbles short of a Parthenon.
Am I misusing the pages of the GVN with my dastardly agitprop? I don’t think so, but that is something only the Editor and the Readers can say for sure. Am I abusing my power as parish council chairman? Godfrey will know as well as I do that the power granted to PC chairmen is minuscule – as Lord Acton might have said back in 1887
“Power corrupts, Minimal power corrupts minimally”
Not to worry though. I am still intending to stand down at the next election in May 2015. I will have been a councillor for twenty years, twelve of them as chairman, and I honestly feel that is long enough for anyone. I do not want to become stale, nor do I want to hang on grimly while my health and my faculties deteriorate. It is time to go. But there are just one or two things I would like to finish before I do…
I will leave you for now with another of Lord Acton’s observations from the late 19th century, this one still horribly apposite:
“The issue which has swept down the centuries, and which will have to be fought sooner or later, is the People versus the Banks”.
We’re still waiting.