As I’ve said before, high speed fibre-optic broadband is coming. It’s a shame that its coming should have to cause chaos in the High Street for a whole week but we can’t will the end without also willing the means to that end. A bit of notice would have been nice though… I just hope it will be worth it when it is operational – sometime early in the new year apparently – as not all reports have been of unalloyed joy. That may have more to do with individual clients’ Internet Service Providers than with the actual infrastructure. Fingers (legs, toes, eyes) crossed.
More change is in the offing: the NNDC bottle bank, still in situ at the time of writing, will disappear soon and be replaced by a new bottle bank provided by the parish council on behalf of the community. Initially there will be just the one container so glass will be mixed (and thus less valuable) but if there is sufficient demand – if all you lovely people keep drinking and schlepping your empty bottles to the car park – then an extra container may be obtained. Remember that all profits from the new bottle bank will be ploughed back into this community. It will also relieve the burden on your green bin. Win-win. If it also reduces the chaos at the new recycling depot in Costessey would that make it win-win-win?
After years of nagging BT about the state of the phone box in the High Street, all to no avail, we suddenly find ourselves pushing at an open door. After threatening to repaint the thing ourselves – a fetching shade of pink had been suggested – BT now say they will provide the correct paint free of charge, and a set of instructions, if we supply the labour. And this is precisely what is going to happen; the paint is coming and the labour is apparently to be provided courtesy of a local resident. Soon we will have the smartest (Grade II listed) phone box this side of Buckingham Palace! No gold bits though. Longer term we need to think of ways in which we can make better use of this facility. Local wi-fi ‘hotspot’ perhaps? All suggestions will be listened to, if only by GCHQ. Ooops. Sorry boys.
By now the Environment Agency should have finished working on the Blakeney Bank. The idea behind these extensive, and expensive, works is to make the bank more ‘resilient’ by making it lower but wider so it can stand being overtopped by abnormally high tides. The Freshes are to act as ‘washlands’ taking the pressure off the Blakeney front-line without the risk of sudden, potentially catastrophic, inundation as occurred last December. That is the theory. While the bank is indubitably lower, is it actually any wider or stronger? Only time will tell. Time and Steve Hayman, the EA’s Representative on Earth, who has agreed to come and speak to us, and answer any questions, at the next parish council meeting which, to save you having to scan down to the bottom of this report, will be on the 2 December. Do come.
This is the time of year when we have to fix the Precept for the coming fiscal year. The precept is the amount of money this council needs to run its services and is collected for us by the NNDC through your Council Tax. Now if I were Chancellor of the Exchequer I’d make great play of the fact that we had frozen our share of the council tax for another year. Like most Treasury statements, this is not quite true: the total income will be the same but since the precept includes a small grant from central government, via the NNDC, and this grant will be cut by 15% next year, we will be increasing the amount council tax payers pay to compensate for this loss. It will be a matter of pence so no need to man the barricades just yet. Unlike Osborne we made a small surplus on our budget last year, if one-off capital expenditure (tarmacking the Quay Road) is discounted.
Further to my report last month on the ‘idiot’ van driver knocking a large hole in part of the boundary wall of Cley Hall, I now have it on good authority that the wall forms part of the curtilage of Cley Hall and should thus be covered by its listed status. The price of repairing it has just gone up appreciably. I was also taken to task for calling the errant driver an ‘idiot’ – as I can’t think of a better word, not one that can be published in a family magazine anyway – I will stick with it. Choice of apter epithets I will leave to his employers and their insurance company. It is true that hot competition between courier companies, and the introduction of weekend deliveries, has led to a lot of casualisation and fragmentation of the workforce. This has resulted in a number of errors such as a recent shipment clearly marked ‘London’ which was found a week later in a warehouse in Birmingham “waiting for Customs clearance” before being shipped off to some remote rock in the South Pacific. So much for competition.