Our resident Grumpy Old Man looks back on 2007 and the responses he has received to his articles.
Well I am sure most people will look back at 2007 as the year we had a truly miserable summer. Others will remember 2007 as the year we got a new Prime Minister (unelected), our first one in over 10 years. I will look back on 2007 as the year I finally vented my frustration on the good people of Stoke Ferry (and the 5 other surrounding villages).
Since I started to write my articles I have learnt a lot about some of my fellow residents. Although most are not as vocal as me, I have discovered that they do have a point of view. Most value what little spare time they have and decide to spend it with their friends and families, others don't have much spare time at all, and working all the hours' god sends to support their families. A few do nothing; sponge off the state and what watch their backsides grow even larger. My point is not everyone wants to attend meetings; most don't want to get involved in village events or help out at local groups. I salute those who do give up their spare time for the good of the village and those who reside in it. Those who spend hours, days, weeks or even years without any recognition, moreover these people don't seek recognition for what they do. For the rest of us we are happy to allow the few to make our village a nicer place to be.
I am one of those people. I don't want to attend committee meetings, been there, done that and even printed my own t-shirt. So to answer the question from the resident in Border Road, I have no intention of joining the Residents Association or any other association for that matter. You take exception to my comments, for what reason I don't know since, as yet, I have made no direct accusations. What I will say is that you must have healthy pension as you have twice visited your solicitor (although you use the term lawyer - and I detest the Americanisms that have slowly crept in to everyday English). You say I am a rude and nasty person with a warped mind. I don't really care what you think about me, you don't know me at all. You, like the resident in Stoke Ferry High Street and another in Bridge Road, seem to think I am launching personal attacks on you as individuals. The only opinion I have of all three of you is one of sadness: sad that you are unable to understand what I am saying; sad that you are unable to take any criticism without going to a solicitor. Grow up, this isn't Hollywood it's Stoke Ferry. We don't take legal action against someone because he speaks his mind; its called free speech. This is the same free speech that enables you and the resident of Park House to call me rude, nasty and many other names. I will continue in 2008 in the same manner as I have done in 2007. I will ask out loud the questions people ask in their mind. I will praise those that work hard for the village and show my contempt for those who's sole purpose is to make life a misery for some people.
One of the great things about the Village Pump is that is represents six villages, not just Stoke Ferry. And as such I always read what other Parish Councils get up to. Reading their minutes gives a great insight into how they conduct their business. The chairman of Stoke Ferry Parish Council has asked councilors how they could improve Parish Council business. May I suggest he starts with the Village Pump and reads the minutes from Wretton, West Dereham and Wereham; each conducts their business in slightly different ways but I am sure the best elements from all these local Parish Councils could be incorporated into Stoke Ferry. If they did even I might attend a meeting in 2008!
However before then let's look at what they have done for us so far. They have decided they want to renumber the houses in Wretton Road because it's too confusing for emergency services and delivery drivers. It's only been like that for over 40 years. I read that the Parish Council are now asking for a Speed Awareness Message to be placed on School Lane; what good will this message do when the road is subject to the national speed limit? Surely, the only message it can give is to tell the driver not to exceed 60mph (50mph if the vehicle is a HGV). No mention of the Parish Council pursuing a 20mph speed limit in Buckenham Drive where there are significant numbers of children. The Parish Council are happy to donate half the value for a road sign saying Cuckoo Lane, sign to cost " around" £150 + vat, but do not make any donation to the Citizens Advice Bureau. Many residents have used the CAB in the past and, I am sure, many more will use it in the future. One councilor has complained at the lack of grass at the end of his road, yet there is no mention of the muddy bog opposite the chip shop; no mention of the mud that is being dragged out onto the road, making the road slippery and dangerous. There was plenty of time for the council to talk about the start date for the planned development adjacent to the Village Hall; but other than the increased financial contribution these new residents would make to the parish council what on earth has it got to do with them? And the future parking arrangements have nothing to do with the parish council. The land that the former car park was on was provided by the previous owner free and gratis whilst he owned the land. This favour was not passed on and I would not expect the developer to provide anything at his cost. Even the planning consent should not reflect this as the whole area is classed as brown field and as such rarely carries any planning consent restrictions. And finally what is it that is so confidential about the Hill that could not be discussed in an open forum such as the Parish Council meeting? I noted a member of the public asked the same question, however the minutes did not give an answer.
Most people choose January as a time for a new beginning. A lot of people will declare their New Years resolutions; many will fail, some in the first few months, others wont even make the end of January. I too have a few New Year resolutions; I hope mine last the year. Therefore I will publicly declare to all that read this column that it is my intention to eat healthier, exercise more, use my car less and above all speak my mind. The first three resolutions will probably fall by the wayside with weeks if not days, but my forth resolution will last a lifetime. I am sure this news will delight the legal profession who appear to be raking the money in since I started writing this series of artcicles.
Grumpy Old Man