Friday 23rd January 2015 - Three Meetings, a Walk and The Strand Club

I have attended three meetings since Monday. First was the Overstrand Together (raising funds for our village) Open Meeting in the Barn at the White Horse on Tuesday evening. There was a very healthy turnout of villagers who listened as the Steering Group gave details of the proposed events for the coming year. I have listed these (some are provisional) on the Village Calendar page. Thought was given as to how the first years funds, raised from various events, should be distributed. Suggestions were made by both the Steering Group and villagers present and these will be put into a format which will be bought to the next meeting.

The second meeting was for the Overstrand Gardening Club on Wednesday afternoon. This was my last attendance; after four years of being a committee member (one of those as Treasurer) I am standing down to make room for fresh blood. The programme for 2015, which includes talks, two social events and two trips, has been finalised and I have posted details on the Gardening Clubs page. This can be accessed from the Village Calendar, Clubs etc. page.

The third and final meeting was on Wednesday evening in the Parish Hall, where WI members heard an entertaining talk from Steve Barrett about his ‘Life as a Hotel Inspector’. Steve has a military background; starting his career as an apprentice Chef. He enjoyed various responsibilities during his twenty three years’ service that included roles at Windsor Castle, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. Following his demob he became a Hotel Inspector, which has encompassed, Hotels (all grades and sizes) B&B’s, Racecourses, Restaurants, Motorway Service Stations etc. Steve related several stories including being overfed, top and tailing of beds, loneliness, sleepless nights, being robbed etc. If anyone had any perceptions about this job being a doddle, Steve soon dispelled these thoughts. I have posted the group’s programme for 2015 on the WI’s page and, as with the Gardening Club; this can be accessed from the Village Calendar, Clubs etc. page. In addition to the meetings and walks there will undoubtedly be a theatre trip and at least one outing.

Keeping with the WI, a small group of members, plus one guest, had an enjoyable walk this morning. Starting from the car park in Pauls Lane, we made our way through the village, up Madams Lane to Northrepps and from here back down to Overstrand, stopping for coffee at the Northrepps Cottage Hotel. It was cold but with blue skies and sunshine we kept warm. We paused at intervals to hear snippets of historical interest. I was asked to cover Overstrand and used, information provided on Overstrand Online (our village history website) as well as data provided on maps posted on the internet, to give a brief outline of particular places of interest.

Finally, The Strand Club have recently enjoyed a festive lunch at the Foundry Arms in Northrepps and their full report is posted on their designated reports page.

Monday 26th January 2015 - Saturday's Open Meeting

The Open Meeting, organised by the Overstrand Parish Council’s Shoreline Management Committee (SMC), on Saturday morning was well attended. Our current LibDem MP for North Norfolk, Norman Lamb was present along with Parliamentary Candidates for this year’s General Election; Conservative, Anne Steward; Labour Denise Burke; and UKIP Michael Baker. There was a risk the meeting could degrade into a typical ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ party political fracas. However, apart from a couple of deviations, the meeting remained focused on the matter in hand – ‘to consider the future provision of coastal defences and the sustainability of coastal communities.’ The meeting was opened by Parish Councillor and Chairman of the SMC, Gordon Partridge and first to speak was Norman Lamb who provided some basic essential facts e.g. if you lose your house down the cliff, there is no right to compensation and the rubble/remains must be removed from the beach by the property’s owner; it is generally accepted that with an increasing rise in sea levels and the occurrence of storms, the threat to coastline properties is increasing; the rise is estimated at one metre over a hundred years.

After providing these facts, Norman Lamb and the other Parliamentary candidates went on to make comments and suggestions. As this is not a political blog, I am going to provide some of the key comments made without reference to individual parties:-

• Concerns about those who bought their properties when the government of the time indicated they would be maintaining coastal defences, only to find they have taken a ‘U’ turn at a later date.

• Should Norfolk take control of its destiny e.g. would residents be willing to pay a sum through their Council Tax to create a fund.

• The coastline is fundamental to the county. There is uncertainty in general with only ‘sticking plaster’ repairs.

• Managed retreat is not resourced. This cannot be tackled by the District Council alone; more action and resources needed from Government.

• Holland has completed amazing works and no longer has flooding issues.

• Collectively and nationally, communities need to be mobilised with support from Institutions such as the National Trust, English Heritage etc.

• Need more access to EU funding.

• It is the duty of Government to defend the realm and as such the Government should be looking at priorities for spending taxes (not spending £50bn on new link to the North) and should not introduce further taxation.

• Protection of the future economy of Norfolk is vital. There are pots of money available and we need to work collectively.

The above is a brief synopsis of statements from the various parties and these were followed by comments and questions from the public, who came from other coastal villages as well as Overstrand. Here are some of the these:-

Comment: The possibility of coastal villages joining forces to work collectively is a good idea and the need to control our own destiny is a very valid point.

Comment: Providing/repairing sea defences in one area has effects on those would don’t have the benefit of defences.

Comment: Agree need for a local fund.

Comment: Community fund a good idea but the concept needs more definition before it could be put to a general vote.

Question: Dredging, which produces £1m revenue a week, with the product being shipped to Holland. Is this still going on? Answer: This is not a current practice. There is a lesser concern when dredging takes place further out.

Comment: Farmland at Trimmingham loses acres down the cliffs, aggravated by irrigation.

Comment: If we are shown to be doing something then more notice would be taken of our problems. If we raise money then we are more likely to get funds.

Comment: If a fund was set up, contributions need to be wider, not just local. All Norfolk enjoys our coastline.

Question: Limited amount of post storm repairs in Overstrand. Seems as though we have been forgotten. Answer (from our District Councillor, Mrs Angie Fitch-Tillett): Work starting in March on our sea defences.

Comment: Overstrand has been neglected. Work is needed now.

Question: Hillingdon Park has surface water problems. During the completion of the development one hundred and twenty trees will be removed. These will be replaced by 160 saplings but how many years before they absorb the same volumes of water. In the meantime the water will go into the cliffs. Residents have not been able to find out how the proposed new drainage will work. Answer: (Michael Baker, speaking as District Councillor on the Planning Committee). The proposed drainage will be looked into and the relevant body will advise the resident.

At the meeting, the PA system comprised of a cabled microphone which was passed between those on ‘top table’. This was embarrassing in that we do not have a decent working PA system. However, those on 'top table' made light of it with comments as to whether anyone would be strangled by the cable!

The meeting came to an end at 11.45 a.m. when everyone went in search of warmth – it was rather chilly in the Parish Hall – and presumably to consider the points and questions raised all round. My own personal conclusion is, there is support for collective fundraising, as well as seeking funds from other bodies. What we need now is a group to spearhead this concept and as the SMC instigated the meeting, they should take this forward. As the saying goes ‘God helps those that help themselves’. So maybe this can be applied to us; Government helps those Coast Villages that help themselves?

Thursday 29th January 2015 - Another Meeting, Inquisitive Seals and Grouting

© 2015 Overstrand Life - Janet's Diaries

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