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December 2014 report

We are having problems getting the funding for the restoration work at the Quay in time for the work to be done next March/April. We need to raise about £25,000 – chicken feed compared to the £500,000 spent on the Blakeney bank repairs – and have tried all of the obvious funds out there without success. If anyone knows of a secret stash down the back of some corporate sofa that might contribute please let us know. If the worst comes to the worst and we cannot get the money together in time to award the contract this year, then the work will have to be put off to the following spring. Our planning consents are valid for up to five years so all the hard work done so far will not have been wasted.

On the subject of money, our County Councillor, Michael Baker, told us that the fall-out from the incinerator debacle is going to cost more than expected – £30 million is the final figure – though this is still less than the expected loss over twenty five years had the contract gone ahead. Indeed the council would have had to buy-in rubbish from outside the county just to maintain the contracted volume at the facility. Madness. Equally mad, or at least hubristic, was the decision to sign the contract before planning consent had been granted; it still hasn’t been. He also informed us that the county’s budget for next year will entail making £69 million of “savings”. This may not sound much in relation to a total budget of over a billion pounds, but when there is no fat left to trim you end up cutting away the meat and the bones. Stand by for ongoing reductions in services.

We have all heard about the problems besetting the Cooperative Bank, problems which have led to the loss of many of its customers. Now, as our District Councillor David Young told us, the NNDC is joining the rush for the exit; the council is moving its banking to Barclays, the bank which, in addition to the millions paid out in PPI compensation (most banks have fallen foul of that), has been fined £200 million for rigging the LIBOR rate, £299 million for attempting to manipulate the US energy market, £26 million for trying to rig the gold market and £38 million for “putting client funds at risk”. All this is in addition to £500 million of back tax they had to pay in 2012 and as yet unquantified fines for attempting to rig the Foreign Exchange market. They are also being investigated in the US for their “Dark Pool” trading and by the UK authorities not happy about the deal with the Qataris back in 2008. Still, it’s nice to know our council tax money is going to be in a safe place.

I must at this point confess that your Parish Council also banks with Barclays, and has done so for many years – since the time it was a normal bank with strong links to Norfolk. Changing banks is a real hassle and a decision probably best left to the next council, after May 2015.

It has been suggested that Cley be entered in the Best Kept Village competition. As we are one of the few villages anywhere with a freshly painted, working, telephone box, we would be in with a good chance of success. Except that a trawl of the EDP website produced nothing, which leads me to suspect there is no such competition any more, at least not in Norfolk. According to Wikipedia there was a fictional one in Borsetshire, where Ambridge naturally won. Also fictional was the situation at the start of the ‘Dibley Live’ episode in The Vicar of Dibley where the council members forego entering the competition, having come in 54th out of 54 the previous year; the village of Denfield, where a lorry-load of BSE-infected toxic waste had crashed into a nuclear fuel tanker causing a crater 200 feet wide and the evacuation of the entire village, came 53rd. Whether that is strictly analogous to a real-world village subject to seemingly never ending road works, a devastating storm surge and a crashed helicopter is a moot point. We would need to tidy up some of the allotments too.

Speaking of which, there are still a few allotment holders who have not yet paid their rent. If they do not pay up soon their allotments will be forfeit. So, probably not the best time to point out that we do have a few vacancies if anyone wants an allotment in Cley – you don’t have to wait for a repossession. Contact the Clerk (01263 713857) for details.

The new, community, bottle bank is in place so please use it, particularly now that we are entering the season of excess consumption. I am not advocating a drunken Bacchanale, though that might give the Police something to report for once, but as it says in the small print of the booze adverts “please drink responsibly”. Any bottles or jars put in your green bin are a loss to the village. What else is new? Repairs to the boundary wall at Cley Hall are proceeding well – coursed flints set in lime mortar. Nice! And BT tell us we are still on course for ‘superfast’ broadband from about March 2015.

Before and after: the wall in the Fairstead as beautifully repaired and restored by Chris Lubbock

The wall in the Fairstead as beautifully repaired and restored by Chris Lubbock

By the time this issue of the GVN thumps onto your doormat, Christmas will be over. Whether slumped with bulging belly in front of the Regina Monologues or, if the Chancellor has had his way, huddled together for warmth while sharing the last scraps from the food bank, I hope you survived to face the New Year. May 2015 bring a few changes for the better. We need them. We also need people to stand for the Parish Council as at least one member is standing down. It would be lovely to have a surplus of candidates so we can actually have an election for once. Think on’t.

Richard Kelham

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