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Cley Old Harbour Working Party

8am – 12.30pm

We are holding a working party at Cley quay to install riding posts and further mooring posts. It is intended to also clear and tidy the quay ready for the oncoming season, all are welcome and doubtless we will repair to The George after our efforts for some light refreshment.

A note of caution; It usually rains on a working party day!

Also a reminder that on the 13th May we have a fleet of Cockle sailing dinghies coming to Cley harbour on the morning tide, arrival about 9am. There may even be tea and coffee for you if you wish to welcome the fleet to Cley.

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Old Harbour Project News

The Project’s latest Newsletter is now available for download. Cley Harbour Newsletter April 2017

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Proposed new social housing for Cley!


Architect’s sketch of the proposed new housing on the disused part of the allotment gardens, Cley.

The designs for new social housing that Victory Housing Trust are proposing to build on the unused part of the allotment gardens were displayed at the church on Tuesday afternoon, 4 October, with representatives of Victory and of the District and Parish councils in attendance. Prior to this comment forms had been delivered to every house in Cley. The Council wish to remind residents that they have until the 26 October to get their replies to the Clerk, Louise Stevens. We would urge as many as possible to do this.

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Cley Quay Latest

Cley Quay 6:3:16
The working party led by Cllr Read hard at it making up the quay heading. Next is the delicate matter of backfilling…

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Cley Quay restoration

Please note that the Quay Car Park and access road will be closed for dredging of the harbour from 31st January to 6th February inclusive. There will be a certain amount of machinery and plant coming and going during this week which might cause some inconvenience. Please bear with us in this, as we will be doing our utmost to keep disruption to a minimum. The footpath from the George garden through to the quay will be accessible for viewing the dredging but not for access to the quay car park or mill, please use the alternative footpath beside the Old Customs house.
If you have any queries or otherwise please contact me on 01263 740987 or e mail kayeread7603@btinternet.com

Simon Read

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Annual Report May 2015

This is, to much relief all round no doubt, my last Chairman’s Report. Looking back the past year has been relatively quiet compared to the year before – no more floods, no more crashing helicopters, no more massive roadworks – though it has not been without its landmark changes. Most obviously our lovely listed phone box has finally been repainted, a mere seventeen years after the last time, and is looking very good. That it is virtually impossible to use is unfortunate, so much so that Vodafone (other networks are available) mobile users have been known to drive for miles in search of a signal rather than attempt to make a call from the phone box, so one of the jobs of the new council might be to find a fitting 21st century use for it; wi-fi hot-spot has been suggested, or a Liberal Democrat Party conference venue?

Less obvious, but undoubtedly more far-reaching, has been the arrival of fibre-optic broadband. The parish council have been enthusiastic supporters of Dr Marie Strong’s successful campaign to bring high speed broadband to rural Norfolk. Now it has arrived Cley can rejoin the modern world – fast broadband is essential for business users these days as well as being highly desirable for domestic users given the relatively poor TV and DAB radio reception hereabouts. The parish council’s own website has been a useful resource for visitors and residents alike as well as a means of publicising the council’s activities. The future maintenance of the website is another task for the new council to look at.

Cley now has its own community bottle bank provided by Indigo Recycling on behalf of the parish council. This should be a nice little earner for the parish but as yet we don’t have any actual figures. Meanwhile please keep on recycling your glass bottles in our bottle bank.

The restoration of the Old Quay area has been deferred until next spring due to lack of funding. To address this problem the council is collecting pledges of financial support from villagers in the hope of attracting match funding from the various grant-giving bodies out there – they are generally better disposed towards projects where the promoters have clearly made an effort. My thanks to our Clerk, Louise Stevens, to Councillor Mark Randell and to newly elected Councillor Simon Read for all their hard work on this project, past and future.

Some six months after the fatal helicopter crash on Cley marshes, the USAF report into the accident was published last summer. As suspected the report showed that the crash was the result of multiple bird strikes. We had long maintained that low-flying aircraft and bird reserves did not, and should not, mix so this seemed like vindication, albeit at terrible cost to those who lost their lives. In the hope of preventing such a tragedy from recurring a petition was raised asking that the no-fly zone already in place over Blakeney Point NNR be extended to cover the NWT Cley reserve as well. Unfortunately a majority of my fellow councillors declined to support me so I had to press on and raise the petition in my own name and, with support from the Pinkfoot Gallery, Holt Bookshop, Made in Cley, District Councillor David Young and of course Norman Lamb MP, our request was granted – with the added bonus that the village itself is now included in the exclusion zone. A big thank you to everyone who helped see this through.

Planning applications are still coming through at a rate of about one a month so the physical appearance of the village is gradually changing, for better or worse. Several properties have come onto the market recently at prices in excess of £1,000,000 exacerbating still further the shortage of affordable accommodation for those who actually live and work here. Proposals to build new social-rented houses under a section 106 agreement are still mired in ‘discussions’ with the planners. Meanwhile the existing stock of such properties is slowly hemorrhaging away. This slow trickle could become a flood now a Tory government has been elected as they have very generously “promised” to force Housing Associations to sell their property at a massive discount to sitting tenants. An interesting precedent seeing that Housing Associations are private, usually charitable, institutions.

Traffic in the High Street is more chaotic than ever, road works having been replaced by building works – at one time there were no less that ten active sites in the High Street and New Road, each with its concomitant gaggle of builders’ vans and cars. Much of the High Street is reduced to a single lane which brings gridlock when impatient motorists came face to face in a local variation of the Mexican standoff. Eventually the builders will finish their labours and we will return to a more normal level of chaos. What to do? Some years ago a couple of Highways engineers came to assess the situation with a view to implementing a scheme of differential road surfaces to delineate parking and non-parking areas without resorting to double yellow lines. They came, they saw, they departed – and nothing has been heard from them since. No doubt it was filed away under ‘too difficult’. Traffic congestion is really only a problem for about eight weeks of the year, not counting builders of course, so a solution must not cause hassles for residents for the other forty fours weeks. And no, that swathe being cut across the south part of the parish is not a previously unannounced new by-pass, despite appearances, but is the route of new cables being laid in connection with an off-shore wind farm. I hope.

And so, before I ride off into the sunset, I’d like to thank Louise for her sterling work as our Clerk and RFO, and for taking on the Village Hall Committee post as well. Thanks also to my fellow councillors for all they have done for the community over the years, to Di Dann, our previous Clerk who got us back on our feet after an attack of malfeasance, and to all the people of Cley for their support. I promise to keep a respectful distance from the new council, unless asked…

Richard Kelham

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Cley Quay working party


A really big THANK YOU to all that gave their time and enthusiasm to help at the working party ( and there were a lot of you). The result of which is that we have cleared both banks of reed growth from Beau Rivage down to the flood gate, a great effort.


Simon Read

Cley Harbour small

Cley Quay c1900 small

View of the old harbour in the 1890s showing Beau Rivage in its original state as a granary. Note the width of the channel even at low tide.

Cley Quay 1 small

A 1995 view of the quay wall and slipway at high tide. This is the condition we wish to return the area to.

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March 2015 report

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.


Stop Press

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.


Richard Kelham

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February 2015 report

Many months ago I downplayed the chances of anyone wanting to drill here for shale gas using the hydraulic fracturing process commonly known as ‘fracking’, arguing that the stage upon which we strut and fret our hour is built on over a thousand feet of chalk; there is plenty of water there – it’s our main aquifer – but no gas. Yet underneath all that chalk there was indeed shale and North Norfolk was to be included in territorial blocks open to bidding for drilling licences. How could we fight off the frackers?

Fracking is a controversial technique generally decried by everyone except fossil fuel fanatics, and this government which is very supportive for various reasons, none of them ethically sound. So keen was the government to facilitate this industry that they changed the trespass law to allow frackers to drill under your land without your consent – and probably to pollute your water supply at the same time. The government even announced they would allow fracking in National Parks until a rebellion in the Commons on 26 January led to the passing of an amendment banning the activity in National Parks, AONBs (hooray), groundwater Special Protection Zones and SSSIs. A further amendment calling for a total moratorium on fracking was heavily defeated because Labour abstained. Why did they do that? Are they nuts? Answers on a postcard, please.

The government meanwhile is doing all it can to undermine the new ‘regulations’ with a minister telling MPs “in the case of AONBs…given their size and dispersion, it might not be practical to guarantee that fracking will not take place under them in all cases without unduly constraining the industry”. In other words the will of parliament is as nothing compared to the desires of the dirty frackers. Another problem is that the North Norfolk AONB is so narrow – rarely more than about five miles wide – that Cuadrilla or whoever could, legitimately, set up drilling rigs just south of Bodham and drill under the supposedly protected area from there. Even without the undermining, our water supply could be well-and-truly fracked. One to keep an eye on.

The on-going project to restore the old harbour quay to something of its former glory continues with a working party of volunteers organised by Simon Read for the weekend of 28th February-1st March – see advert in the February GVN for details. The intention is to do some preparatory clearance of reeds and other detritus before contractors move onto the site to do the heavy work. As that is dependent on funding it may not happen before March 2016, but this work will not have been in vain because taming the reeds is likely to be a long job. We owe it to our maritime heritage to make this happen.

Part of our maritime heritage is, or mostly was, reflected in the names of some of the houses. There were for instance four which carried names associated with South Africa: Umona, Umvolosi, Umtata and Umgeni. These were the names of ships of the Bullard & King line which traded to South Africa – not from Cley obviously – with Cley residents as their Masters. There were at least three families, all inter-related by marriage, who retired back to their native village where they bought these properties. Or something like that.

Another link lost was Homer Cottage. When Captain Long retired from the sea he named his house after his last ship, the Homer, and so it remained until a few years ago when new owners threw away the name along with most of the original building. And now it seems the poor old Fiducia is for the breakers’ yard too. The Fiducia was built at Scarborough in 1859 as a trawler but later converted to cargo work sailing out of the Blakeney haven. She was ketch-rigged and rated at 55 tons. She was eventually sold to new owners in Lowestoft. How a rather nondescript 1950s bungalow comes to be named after a surprisingly graceful local ship that left the area some fifty years earlier is one of those little mysteries. It could of course be purely coincidental – but I’m not going to admit that, am I.

Quite a month for disappointment as I have been informed that the phone inside our smartly painted phone box doesn’t work. It cannot work. There’s nothing wrong with the line but the apparatus – which large signs point out is a card-only phone – lacks anywhere to put the card. BT have been informed and will no doubt be full of ideas about where to stick it. The card, that is. Still, mustn’t be too unkind as we still want to have a WiFi hotspot installed there. Oh, and a working phone would be nice.

The next meeting of the Cley Parish Council will be held on Tuesday 3rd March 2015 in the Armes Room at the rear of the Village Hall, starting at 7.30pm. So far as I know there are no plans to change its name.

Richard Kelham

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January 2015 report

After a meeting when there seems little or nothing to report, one falls with glee upon the words of David Young, our District Councillor. At the end of a paragraph about how NNDC charges would increase by 2.5% – excluding carparks, market fees, beach huts and taxi licenses you’ll be relieved to hear – he slipped in a sentence about the extension of the Housing Incentive Scheme for another year. What’s that, you say? It is a scheme designed to encourage developers to get on and actually build the houses for which they have planning consent – at any one time nationally there are around 400,000 unused planning consents for house building, enough to keep them all busy for three or four years at the present rate of construction. The NNDC offer reduces the already minimal percentage that has to be devoted to ‘affordable’ housing to 20% for developments of ten or more units, and removes it completely where there only nine or less, if they use their consent and build within a year of granting.

This policy doesn’t affect Cley as no-one is allowed to build here anyway – though it could affect Blakeney. The recent development on the Langham Road was an excellent example of how the system should work and as such is probably the last of its kind. Because developments in villages tend to be small – often less than ten – this policy change could have meant no affordable new housing in rural areas for a year. There is worse to come.

Prior to the 2010 election the Tories received a number of sizeable donations from the house building industry which generosity has been repaid with interest by this government’s emasculation of the planning laws under the National Planning Policy Framework with its presumption in favour of development, undermining local needs and discretion. Now Pickles, the Minister for Communities and Local Government and a dead ringer for Humpty Dumpty’s evil twin, has slipped through a change that permanently removes the need for an ‘affordable’ element in smaller scale developments, much to the annoyance of many rural councils – many of them Conservative-controlled – that are battling to retain some sort of community in the face of a totally dysfunctional housing market.

The NPPF requires that developments be ‘sustainable’ without, so far as I can see, actually defining the word. The United Nations in Resolution 42/187 defined it as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” which is wonderfully platitudinous but not particularly helpful. Any thought that it might include energy efficiency or sensitive use of materials can be swiftly dismissed. The only thing in this government’s view that is to be sustained is the developer’s profit margin – typically upwards of 20%. The big house building firms are adept at fiddling the figures to make any scheme seem unaffordable if the council persists in demanding ‘affordable’ housing, infrastructure contributions, or even a bit of green space. Councils lack the forensic skills to be able to counter these spivs.

Not that ‘affordable’ has any meaning either. For rentals the government defines it as 80% of market rate which is ludicrous as 80% of ‘far too much’ is still ‘too much’. In many of the more desirable parts of the country – like North Norfolk naturally – house prices are in the order of eleven times the local average wage. This makes it impossible for many people who were born and raised here, who work here and need to carry on living here, to afford to buy or even rent on the open market. With the ever dwindling supply of social rented property courtesy of that other Tory scam the “right to buy”, it is hard to see how communities can survive in any meaningful sense. Perhaps there will be a flurry of planning applications for servants’ quarters.

Councillor Young next touched on the wide range of new powers available under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill 2014. In particular Community Protection Notices which can be issued by a variety of people (he cited the NNDC Head of Environmental Services) to counter behaviour likely to frighten horses or cause maiden aunts to swoon. Infringement of these notices is an offence. The Act replaced ASBOs – often seen, at least by tabloid journalists, as the only qualification some kids were likely to get – with a slew of other potential offences. A bagful of TLAs (recursively ‘Three Letter Acronyms’) such as CPN, CPO. CPI, CBO, ETC are supposed to replace the ASBO making the whole process ‘simpler’. Another weasel word? Probably. CPNs will make it easier to deal with nuisance neighbours so may be welcomed by many, though some of the other provisions of the Act may have less positive effects on community life. I am not a lawyer – that much must be blindingly obvious – so would hope that our own Lord Macdonald, who is and who had some robust words to say on the subject in the House of Lords last year, could write a few lines in a future GVN. Please. A question arises: would poisoning mature trees in a conservation area come under the provisions of a Community Protection Notice?

After all the hassle with roads being dug up I am pleased to announce that ‘superfast’ broadband is here. Well it is if you live in the centre of Cley and have BT as your Internet Service Provider. Anybody else will have to wait another two to three months as BT Wholesale are not busting a gut to allow other ISPs into the exchange; a cunning plot worthy of Baldrick. But fast it is. My neighbour is getting 36Mbps download speeds (and 10Mbps uploads) which is a remarkable improvement. BT say we could get as much as 80-which-means-70-really if we were prepared to cough up the necessary small fortune. Cley joins the 21st century at last!

The short footpath between the George garden and ‘Riverside’ has been added to the definitive map of public rights of way. Something else for the Parish Council to look after, as is how to deal with the large step at the seaward end of the path. Chopping a lump out of it has been suggested but it is almost certainly made of reinforced concrete so that may not be so easy. Alternatively a step could be built? Any thoughts could be brought to the next meeting on Tuesday 3rd February 2015 at 7.30pm in the clubroom at the rear of the village hall.

Richard Kelham

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