We have had contact with BT (mirabile dictu) who point out that cashless payphones can be used even when there is no card reader. Apparently calls can be made from these cashless boxes by dialling 0800 0320023 and then following the prompts, or the instructions written on the display panel on the rear of the box – in about 9pt type so take your glasses. You will need to have your debit or credit card to hand which implies the system doesn’t actually work with phone cards, though it does work with BT’s own charge card, whatever that might be. Or, failing that, dial 100 and ask to reverse the charges.
The working weekend on the old quay was a great success thanks to all the volunteers – and there were a gratifyingly large number of you – and with particular thanks to Simon Read for organising the whole show. As I said last month this work was to be in preparation for the full-scale, mechanised assault on the silt originally scheduled for about now but postponed until this time next year as the funding is not yet in place. With that in mind, it has been seriously suggested that a local fund-raising effort be made so as to be able to provide match-funding for any grants on offer. This would take the form of pledges of money that would only be called in when work was about to start. Further details when they are available.
At the meeting it was announced that our Head Flood Warden, Tony Aberdein, has had to stand down for health reasons and that his place would be taken by Dr Roger Brownsword (01263 740862), an experienced flood warden with personal knowledge of what flood water can do to one’s home. It is in no way a reflection on Roger’s considerable abilities when I wish Tony a speedy recovery.
On the subject of seawater, the government’s nihilistic approach to the public sector has included a full-frontal assault on the Coastguard Service which continues with our own Watch being stood down at the end of the month. A least we still have the lifeboats though anyone getting into trouble out there will have to rely on passing strangers with mobile phones – and a signal – to call out the RNLI. Remember also that the air-sea rescue service has been privatised, the contract having been awarded to Bristow Helicopters of Houston, Texas. The company, which specialises in ferrying crews to and from the various oil and gas rigs, have some experience of air-sea rescue having seen several of their helicopters crash into the North Sea, with fatal consequences alas. I know this government were never likely to let reality trump their right wing dogma but how it can be cheaper to pay to have a commercial company’s helicopter and crew on stand-by 24/7 in place of air force personnel who are being paid anyway, is beyond my ken. Perhaps they will save money by only going out in office hours and have an answering machine for other times?
Elaine Ferguson, the Housing Development Officer from the NNDC, will be addressing the next meeting and we will no doubt have some very interesting questions for her. Her visit is particularly timely as there is a newly vacated property in Old Woman’s Lane which Victory Housing Trust are thinking of selling on the open market; no decision has been made yet, and it would require Board and Regulator approval, but we can ill afford to lose any more social housing, particularly as the NNDC planners have so far blocked the only realistic proposal for new build in the village. If this, or any other, development went ahead it would be built under the Exceptions Scheme and thus would fall under the local lettings policy which means it would be offered to the people of Cley and surrounding villages on the housing waiting list first – unlike the property in Old Woman’s Lane which would be available to anyone on the list. Perhaps some answers will be forthcoming at the next meeting – but please be gentle with her as we need her support in our war against the planners.
Many things may change in the next couple of months with our MP, our District Councillor and the entire Parish Council up for re-election. This is the point where I urge everyone – especially the young – to make sure they vote on 7 May. Ignore what Russell Brand says. The reason that all political parties fall over themselves to appease the old is that they know that pensioners vote; and there’s a lot of them/us round here. Conversely the needs of the young are generally ignored because most of them don’t bother to vote anyway so who cares if they are further alienated. Yes, the system is fundamentally and deeply corrupt – as we have been reminded yet again in the last few weeks – and parliament in session is more like a bear pit than a place of rational debate, but it’s the only one we have. For the moment. Besides, if you don’t vote you can’t complain at the outcome.
I must also urge people to stand for election to the parish council. PCs don’t have much actual power but they do have influence and they are important for their communities. We need at least eight candidates to have an election – without one there is a sense that the council doesn’t have a democratic mandate (we haven’t had an election for the PC for eight years so definitely time for another) – so please think about it seriously; nomination papers will be available from our Clerk, Louise Stevens (01263 713857), and then all you need is a proposer and a seconder, who must be on the electoral register for Cley.
The next meeting of the Cley Parish Council will be held in the Armes Room at the rear of the village hall on Tuesday 7 April, kick off 7.30pm. Not too literally, I hope.
I have just seen a copy of a letter from Defence Minister, Anna Soubry, to Norman Lamb in which the MoD concede our request that there be an all year round no-fly zone over the Cley marshes reserve. As an added bonus, this ‘Environmental Avoidance’ as they call it will be extended to cover the village of Cley too. So thanks very much to all of you who signed the petition and thanks too to Cllr David Young and Norman Lamb MP for pressing ahead with the campaign.