Big Eye, February 7, 2017

File photo dated 18/03/16 of Lucas, a homeless man, holding a sign reading 'Please help, homeless and hungry' in Victoria, London, as ministers were accused of ignoring the plight of the homeless as new figures showed a sharp rise in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 25, 2017. Local authorities estimated on a single night in autumn 2016 there were 4,134 rough sleepers compared to 3,569 the previous year - an increase of 16% - according to figures compiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). See PA story POLITICS Homeless. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

File photo dated 18/03/16 of Lucas, a homeless man, holding a sign reading 'Please help, homeless and hungry' in Victoria, London, as ministers were accused of ignoring the plight of the homeless as new figures showed a sharp rise in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 25, 2017. Local authorities estimated on a single night in autumn 2016 there were 4,134 rough sleepers compared to 3,569 the previous year - an increase of 16% - according to figures compiled by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). See PA story POLITICS Homeless. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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Everyone’s finally getting the message that, however bad you might think our public services are getting, there’s worse to come.

Not only are financial cuts biting harder, our community charge bills are being ramped up, too.

It’s all bad news and, although we spiral down towards the time when the last remnants of the social services safety net are pulled from under our feet, you’ll still hear councillors putting on a brave face and converting potential disasters into a triumph for democracy.

I’m talking about lollipop patrols (I would have called them ladies, but I’d probably have to answer to the pc police).

Last week, it was revealed that the county council, in one of its typical moronic and thoughtless initiatives, decided it might be a ripping idea to axe some school patrols to save money.

Now, you can imagine how these people are transfixed like rabbits in headlights as they struggle to squeeze quarts out of half pint pots whenever they can get away with it.

Around 40 schools across the county had been selected to lose their crossing patrols, but the hapless committee members hadn’t factored-in a protest ambush from the combined forces of a bus-load of banner-brandishing children and their less-than-amused minders.

The upshot of this mini-manoeuvre was a complete about-face for the penny-pinching children’s services committee, resulting in a very necessary service being saved.

What were they thinking? What a massive PR disaster for a team charged with the maintenance and protection of little children across Norfolk. But it wasn’t all bad news, was it?

Despite the obvious strength of kiddy power, who quite rightly claimed they’d won the fight, our resourceful council chiefs also managed to snatch a victory from the snapping jaws of defeat by declaring this was their victory ... a victory for the people and for their ability to respond to public demands and democracy.

Sometimes you’ve just got to take it on the chin and admit it was a totally rubbish idea with the potential for an utter disaster ... but not this lot.

PR disasters seem to be coming thick and fast for the people running our county and borough services, because hard on the heels of ‘Lollipopgate’ came the shameful news that west Norfolk is one of the top 10 areas in the country for rough sleepers, with 42 homeless people.

The bitter irony is our countryside is infested with holiday homes which stand empty for much of the year, while vulnerable people sleep in shop doorways.

Taxes for these second-home-owners should be increased to ensure those who can’t afford a bed for the night can at least enjoy a tiny bit of the comfort which we routinely take for granted.