Overstrand Life - Janet's Diaries

January 1st - 15th 2014

Wednesday 1st January 2014 - 2013 Revisited

Thursday 9th January 2014 - Mild Weather, Parish Council Meeting and Disillusioned

January and February are usually the months when we can expect bad weather however, so far this month it has been mild. The wind continues to blow across land, so no chilling north and east winds and on sunny days we have felt quite warm out walking in our winter jackets and layers. The south and south westerly winds have resulted in the sand on our beach building nicely and levels are now high enough to cover the groins, in the Cromer direction. Work sorting the storm debris is progressing well with Peter and our friend spending two solid days this week on the clearance. I have been helping bagging the plastics for as long as my back has allowed. A number of tourists walking past have stopped for a chat and to express their appreciation of the work undertaken by us and other volunteers. Yesterday before I walked back home with Barney, I took time to stand back and look at the area. What a difference the team from Cromer along with our assistance have made to this section of the beach; it looks so much better. Yes, there is still a lot more to clear but we are on the winning side. I know they say you should not ‘blow your own trumpet’ but I consider this is something all the volunteers should be proud of.

The first Parish Council meeting of 2014 was held on Wednesday evening, starting with time for remembrance for two members of the village who have recently passed away. Constance Bolton-Maggs was remembered for her time as Parish Councillor and May Arnold for her contribution to the British Legion and to the village as Parish Councillor. Russell Smith was then co-opted onto the Parish Council; the Parish Council now has a full complement of Councillors. During the open section of the meeting our District Councillor, Mrs Angie Fitch-Tillett gave her report, which centred on The Storm. She advised that a council team will be coming to Overstrand on Wednesday 15th January to start working on the damage. She asked if the Parish Council would be available to litter pick on that day. Unfortunately a number of the Councillors are not physically able to undertake this task and others work; so this was not an option. A date when able councillors and residents could address the task was not decided and the matter has been left open to negotiate with NNDC, who I understand from the discussions must be involved. Together with our friends we have cleared the visible plastics from the debris on Overstrand beach in the Cromer direction, apart from the bottom of the cliff behind the revetments; this does not pose an immediate threat to marine environment. We had fully intended to clear this area further; that was until…..

Following questions from the Parish Councillors to Angie Fitch-Tillett, members of the public were able to participate. Peter saw this as a good opportunity to advise Angie Fitch-Tillett of the excellent progress made by volunteers; that twenty-one sacks had been bought up to the car park and collected by Kier as well as; currently there are seven builder’s aggregate bags and a pile of gas cylinders ready for the Council to collect (these are by the second groin after the end of the revetments). Her reaction was totally unexpected. Instead of being appreciative of the volunteer’s efforts she saw it as interference. The bags had been left where it was difficult for collection (what - like we told the storm to deposit the vast amount of debris two groins from the end of the revetments and not at the more accessible end of the revetments!) and this is an extra task for her to address before she takes leave to go on holiday in two days. This was the reaction of the elected Conservative District Councillor and whatever her feelings she should not have voiced these. It does not really matter which party Angie Fitch-Tillett represents, no District Councillor should have reacted this way: virtually throwing her toys out of the pram. In the past Angie Fitch-Tillett has been approachable and understanding and has spoken on behalf of villagers concerns over several controversial planning applications. However, in view of her reaction we will be making no further attempts to help clear the Overstrand beach of storm debris. If she had not reacted in this manner the beach would have been cleared by volunteers, leaving a pleasant area in readiness for those who holiday here, plus those who have holiday homes, caravans or lets, as well as walkers who enjoy traversing the sands. So there you have it. The clearance is now in the hands of our Parish Council and NNDC.

As an addendum to the above; there was disinterest expressed by two of the Parish Councillors. One, a business man expressed ‘what’s a few bits of plastic’ – so, twenty one sacks and 7 builders aggregate bags full of plastic are just a few bits! The second Parish Councillor, who is a great advocate of tourism in the village, questioned whether the debris needed to be cleared at all. Comments from supposedly intelligent people, who represent residents and obviously do not appreciate the threat plastics pose to the marine environment.

As you can probably gather from the above two paragraphs, I am pretty disillusioned with both our District Councillor and the two aforementioned Parish Councillors. A shame, as I know there are those who want to and who do their best for our village.

Monday 13th January 2014 - Book Printing, Frost, Sunrise and More about Clearing Debris

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