The candidates for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin – Dunne to be challenged by former Telford leader, Heather Kidd and a Green

Philip Dunne has hit the road in his van to defend his ‎19,286 majority in the Ludlow constituency. First elected in 2005, he faces some strong challengers. Heather Kidd is again standing for the Lib Dems. Hilary Wendt is on a repeat performance for the Greens. And former Telford Council leader Kuldip Sahota is being brought in by Labour to replace Julia Buckley, who has gone north to fight against Daniel Kawczynski in Shrewsbury & Atcham.

Nationally and locally, this is going to be an interesting election. There has been a chaotic political choreography underway as candidates have stood aside or were told to stand down to improve the chances of Remain or Leave leaning candidates. Parties are setting out their stalls, not just on Brexit, but also on the many other big issues that have been delegated to second rank in politics for far too long.

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Bashed Belisha Beacon is just the latest instance of street furniture wrecking in Ludlow

Ludlow seems to have more than its fair share of street furniture bashing. I have lost track of how often street furniture in the town centre is bashed and broken. Signs on Castle Street, bollards at Bodenhams and on Old Street. It’s an expensive business. A coach company that demolished the Bodenhams bollard was sent a bill of £1,000 by Shropshire Council for a replacement. And it is not so long ago that Ludford Bridge was battered by a truck delivering tarmac for resurfacing at Tesco.

Now, a Belisha Beacon on Foldgate Lane outside the Co-op has been demolished. It is a curious incident. The junction is wide. Either a car came around the corner from Sheet Road and completely missed the junction – the road is 8.5m wide at this point and 25m wide at Sheet Road. Or someone reversed over the zebra crossing to hit the Belisha. It was certainly a hard knock and the vehicle must have been damaged. I asked the police if a traffic accident was reported. They said no.

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Building work starts on Linney House but only for foundations of a garage

The world of planning is often bizarre. That’s the case with Linney House where a series of applications for houses in the grounds have met objections from residents and planners. But the developer, Linney House Developments, did gain planning permission in 2014 and 2017. Planning law says that developers must start work within three years on planning permission being granted. The current planning application for eight homes on the site has run into trouble with strong objections from Shropshire Council’s planning team.

Yesterday, contractors moved onto the site to begin work. Alerted by concerned residents, I went to the site to check up on what was happening. Heras fencing is being erected, undergrowth cleared and foundations dug for a garage. That’s enough to stop the 2017 permission for three large houses expiring. Although work has started, there is no current intention of building this scheme. As I said, the world of planning is often bizarre.

I asked if the site could be sold and turned into a nature reserve. Answer, no.

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Shropshire Council gives upbeat update on its huge investment in Shrewsbury shopping centres

Shropshire Council has made a lot of controversial decisions. Many have reduced help for those that most need it. The council has also focussed on Oswestry and Shrewsbury at the expense of rural areas. That’s why it decided to spend £51 million to buy three shopping centres in closed session in January 2018. It has been a mixed picture since with some new retail units opening but a general trend of store closures and rent reductions. More taxpayer’s money is to be invested in improving the stores in a climate of declining high streets. The council continued to justify its biggest ever purchase at a meeting last week, claiming that the shopping centres have a rosy future. I hope so but the council could have better invested our money in improving the social fabric of the county by building desperately needed council houses. And I have doubts that the council can succeed when retail companies can’t make many high streets work.

Shropshire Council cut £10 million a year from its highways budget. It said this cut would be reversed when the shopping centres generate enough income. That doesn’t look likely any time soon as the shopping centres generate a pre-tax income of under £1 million.

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Western Power Distribution gets permission to move to out of town site in Ludford

Shropshire Council planners have given permission for Western Power Distribution (WPD) to move its depot to a new site between the Eco Park and Western Power Distribution’s substation on Squirrel Lane. Vehicle access will be from the Eco Park spine road.

The company has operated from an unsuitable location in The Riddings, Sandpits for decades. Its 1960s depot is set behind a new row of social housing recently built on the site of the former tax office. WPD maintenance trucks must travel along St Margaret Road and Parys Road to leave the depot. Worse, they often travel past Ludlow Infants School when children are arriving or leaving.

Now the company is to move out of town. This is a good move.

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