Shropshire Council budget: Bus subsidies cut, park and ride fares up and new housing company burdened with debt

Shropshire Council has cut £48 million from its budget over the last three years under pressure of government cuts. It will need to cut, or in its words “save”, £18.5m next year. The council has now set out details of the proposed cuts and is asking for public comments.

The lengthy litany of cuts is grim. In this article, I look at buses and Shropshire Council’s plan for a new debt-ridden housing company. I also review other cuts that will affect how Shropshire Council works with local communities and will make Shirehall more distant from Ludlow than ever.

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Shropshire Council budget: A “perfect squeeze” leaves the council scrambling for £19 million cuts

Shropshire Council is suffering a perfect squeeze. Costs are soaring. Government cuts are hurting. And the council is not raising enough money.  

The council is short of money because the government has cut grants to local authorities, taking £44m from Shropshire alone. Shropshire Council leaders refused to increase council tax for six years. That political dogma has left the county short of £15m a year, money we desperately need.

As income fell, the cost of providing adult social care in Shropshire shot up by 50%. That’s an extra £46m the council is struggling to find.

The result is significant planned cuts to many important and valued services. The latest round of cuts is expected to total £19m.

This is my 1000th blog post on andybodders.co.uk. I am sorry that it is on such a depressing subject. 

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Shropshire Council: Income from the new parking charges will fall short of predictions by £2 million

The hikes in parking charges in the centre of Ludlow have been controversial. They were ill thought through and driven by a desire to make Shropshire Council a champion of “linear parking charges”. The only potential upside was that the charges were going to draw in income for the council. Council leader Peter Nutting told us in Ludlow he was hoping to raise £2.5 million to help plug the looming gap in the council’s finances.

Alas, the new regime is going to raise just £400,000 a year across the county. Is that amount worth all the effort? I very much doubt it.

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New development sites for Shropshire – just two of 64 potential housing sites in Ludlow made it through to the local plan

Last year, Shropshire Council issued a call for landowners and developers to suggest sites for future residential and employment development. Several hundred sites were put forward. Most were rejected.

In the Ludlow area, 64 sites were submitted. Enough land to build nearly 7.000 homes. Half the sites submitted were in Ludlow, or adjacent to Ludlow in Ludford and Bromfield. Just two of the 63 sites were approved for inclusion in the current local plan review. A further 20 sites were assessed as having long term potential for development. They could accommodate more than 3,100 homes.

This article looks at those sites that made the grade, those that didn’t, and those the planners think could be built on after 2036. I think we need to go further and allocate a garden suburb to be built between now and 2060.

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Could changing government recycling policy breathe new life into the pioneering Ludlow Biodigester?

A decade ago, Ludlow was one of the country’s champions of food waste recycling. Caddies were collected weekly from the doorstep of homes and local businesses. This was processed in the biodigester on Coder Road creating gas and compost. This was an experimental project but it was cutting edge. So much so, I travelled from Oxfordshire just to view the facility. It is now closed.

Now the government is saying that we must take food waste seriously. It says weekly food waste should be collected and biodigested. It doesn’t want councils to continue composting in open bins as we do in Shropshire.

This is an ideal opportunity to upgrade and reopen Ludlow’s pioneering biodigester.

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