Month: April 2013

It can get lively in this town some nights and alcohol fuelled disturbances are far from uncommon. One in ten reported crimes is violent and nearly half antisocial behaviour. There has been some success on reducing crime in the town. Reported crime has fallen by 10% over the last two years. In 2012, there were an average of 105 incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour in Ludlow every month. This is down from 114 incidents a month in the previous year. Ludlow: quarterly trends in crime and anti social behaviour 2011-12 Click for larger image However, it is not all good news. The overall level of crime in Ludlow is well above the average for West Mercia. Ludlow has around 118 incidents a year for every 1,000 of its residents. Across West Mercia there are about 99 crimes a year per 1,000 people, nearly a fifth lower. Where do these crimes and disturbances occur? The town has three hotpots: the town centre from the Blue Boar to the Compasses the bottom of Corve street around the supermarkets the Sandpits area Location of crime and anti social behaviour incidents 2011-12 Click for larger image As the map shows, the pattern of…

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The local elections are now well underway and many candidates, including the Lib Dem team in Ludlow have been canvassing for weeks. Yesterday Shropshire Council published the full list of candidates for the 2 May elections. There has been a flurry of last minutes candidates, including from UKIP which has pulled 29 out of the hat. Over the county, 207 candidates are standing for 74 seats. Politically, the split is: Conservative: 74. Liberal Democrat: 37. Labour: 36. UKIP: 29. BNP: 5. Green: 8. Independent: 19 Here in Ludlow we have three seats being contested. Ludlow East Tracey Huffer: Liberal Democrat Imogen Hereford: Green Diane Lyle: Conservative Colin Sheward: Labour Ludlow South Viv Parry: Liberal Democrat Maurice Knott: UKIP Graeme Perks: Independent Martin Taylor-Smith: Conservative Ludlow North Andy Boddington: Liberal Democrat Jim Hooper: Labour Jennifer Leyton-Purrier: Independent Frances Newman: Green Chris Woodward: UKIP Rosanna Taylor-Smith: Conservative It is notable that neither UKIP candidate lives in Ludlow. Chris Woodward owns Hopton Court outside Cleobury Mortimer. Maurice Knott lives in Bridgnorth. All other candidates live in or adjacent to Ludlow town.

Planning matters can be a little on the dull side, but bear with me a moment on this one. It really matters that Shropshire has gone from being one the best planned counties in the country to one of the worst in under a year. A year ago, the government published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) amid huge controversy. Communities across England are now finding that it overrides local wishes and local plans. And Shropshire has just joined the unhappy club of councils where many planning decisions are being made according to national rules and not local needs. A year ago, Shropshire Council was assuring us that all was well in planning. As late as December last year, it was saying that everything was under control. Now it says that is not the case. After years of trying to get planning right in this county, we now learn Shropshire has stumbled into a planning free-for-all. From here on, it is likely that housing will not be built where it is most needed, but where it is most resented. This is breathtaking bungling by the Council. It will trash precious green fields while failing to deliver housing for young people…

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Sir Andrew Motion, the president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England caused something of stir last weekend by launching a salvo against second home owners in the Times. There were about 1,100 second holiday homes in Shropshire in 2001. On the face of it, the 2011 census suggests there are rather less, but I greatly distrust this data which classifies 68% of second homes held for ‘other purposes’ than working or holidaying. It would not surprise me if there are nigh on 3,000 second homes in the county held for holiday purposes – around 2.5% of the total – but that is just a guess. This is lower than the level of empty homes. In April 2009, 3.3% of properties in Shropshire were vacant – a statistic of far greater concern to me than second homes. Shropshire Council is beginning to tackle this problem, but it is too early to see how effective this long overdue strategy will be. The real problem is that financial model for building affordable housing is all but broken. Even if funds for housing investment were flowing freely, many rural communities have yet to face up to the reality that at least some affordable…

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West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore has just finished consulting on “Innovative Local Policing Plans” – how the force intends to maintain effective policing in an area of swingeing budget cuts. As part of the plans, the current Ludlow police station will be closed and replaced by a base somewhere else in the town, though the details are vague. I have written to Bill Longmore saying that I believe it is essential that we keep a strong police presence in the centre of the town. I reproduce this letter below. Please let me know your views about the future of our police station using the comment box at the bottom of this page. _________ 31 March 2013 Dear Bill Longmore Local Policing: Ludlow I write in response to your consultation on Innovative Local Policing Plans. I am very concerned about the proposal to close Ludlow police station. Ludlow, as you know, as a reputation as an idyllic historic market town, snuggling into the soft landscape of The Marches. The attractiveness of the location should not however blind us to the problems the town faces with crime and antisocial behaviour, especially in the town centre. There has been some…

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