The Big Eye, Tuesday, October 18

Last week the Saddlebow paper mill caught fire and although there was one unfortunate casualty, our firefighters were able to bring it under control and put the fire out. Dr Wolfgang Palm will be given a full report of the incident and no doubt will establish the facts, find a solution to the problem and make recommendations so that it never happens again. Job done!

It occurred to me that the fire at Saddlebow was in some way a harbinger of doom pointing a heavily smoke-blackened finger towards the east where the Norfolk County Council are preparing a fresh bid to complete the inquiry into the fandango surrounding “The inferno that never was” or The Saddlebow Incinerator Project. For those of you who have often wondered how Norfolk County Council managed to lose £30 million overnight without so much as an apology, it seems a bunch of councillors have lodged a motion calling for the original enquiry to be restarted. This is necessary because the councillors in charge of the aborted Incinerator Project subsequently failed to cooperate with the first inquiry into the disaster, forcing it to be abandoned. We had a stalemate, and despite a bit of shouting in the Chamber and some tetchy comments reported in the Press, the perpetrators of this appalling financial foul-up seemed to have escaped without a graze…until now!

It is important that we get to the bottom of this crass incompetence and winkle out the names of the people who actually made the decisions and signed that cheque to Cory Wheelabrator. Refusing to answer questions or explain should never be an option…the money lost wasn’t theirs to dispose of and they should be accountable. To date we’re not even allowed to know the names of the refusers and although there may be contractual niceties allowing them anonymity, it cannot be right that publicly owned funds are not protected by rigorous audits and openness.

Slightly closer to home and equally baffling is the outcome of a weird and wonderful report detailing the growing habits of grass and weeds in West Norfolk and how it might affect the frequency of the number of cuts required.

The report, prepared for a committee meeting intending to review the council’s grass cutting programme has highlighted something that I didn’t know, that it is a universally acknowledged fact that grass grows faster in Downham than in Lynn. Well, this was a revelation and could explain why farmers clamour for land round Downham and determinedly shun the rubbish land on Terrington Marsh. I know my old Grandad used to talk about The Giant Bunnies of Lynn and maybe that’s why grass gets taller in Downham . . . they’ve only got regular sized rabbits nibbling their verges.

We need to be sure our taxes aren’t being wasted and when we allow councillors to hide behind anonymity or dream up stuff about variable grass growth I begin to wonder who the real idiots are..and I fear it might be us! I wonder what Dr Palm would say?