Month: September 2013

I was astounded to hear Shropshire Council’s Cecelia Motley speak on BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday morning (begins at 2:36). Her message was spot on about the way that national funds are diverted to urban areas at the expense of rural districts. She has been a strong champion of the need for a better funding deal. But forgive me if I despair that that Shropshire’s three conservative MPs and its Conservative council cabinet have been talking about better funding for sparsely populated counties like Shropshire for years. A fair deal is not even in sight at the moment. It lies in only in those promissory notes of politics. Few people think this one will ever be cashed in. But that’s not the reason I’m angry with Cecelia. I’m infuriated because she failed to acknowledge that there is urban rural divide here in Shropshire too. Drop into Shrewsbury and you can ride on a Shropshire Council subsidised bus. In Ludlow, the clapped out service doesn’t get a penny of subsidy. None of the buses running today can accommodate disabled people. In Ludlow, all council operations are being scaled down. We are going to lose our local tip. Ludlow is a big town…

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In May 2012, local supermarket group Harry Tuffins sold its stores to the Midcounties Co-operative Society. The Competition Commission was none too happy with the deal and some stores were transferred back to Tuffins. But Ludlow’s Foldgate store remains in Co-op hands. From Monday, you will be able to use your co-operative membership cards at Tuffins and accumulate points towards an annual dividend. That’s paid twice a year or you can donate it to charity. If you are not a member, you can sign up in the store right now or online.

After six years of debate and angst, the decision is final. Shropshire Community Health Trust (SCHT) decided that the new community health facility for Ludlow is too expensive and will not be funded. What we get is a review. Well, actually, two reviews. The decision is not of course a surprise. The Clinical Commissioning Group on 21 August voted unanimously not to plug a £1.1 million annual shortfall in funding. Immediately after that meeting, SCHT interim chief executive Julia Bridgewater declared: “we will explore every possible option to make the current plan happen.” She told today’s meeting that there are no options to make the hospital happen, and that any ambition for the project had evaporated. The annual shortfall for the new hospital was this morning reduced to £795,000. That would have been good news if the board’s auditor, Chris Bird had not warned that in his view the funding gap might in reality be well over £2 million. There was much said about the failure of the scheme being a great disappointment to the people of Ludlow. That’s true for its advocates but the town was split on it. What everyone wants is upgraded medical provision, whether that’s in…

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On 13 September, the South Shropshire Journal published my letter on the disgraceful state of Ludlow’s buses: Promises on buses have been ignored  Ludlow’s bus service is a disgrace. Unbelievably, Shropshire Council says that the quality of the service is not its responsibility. This is not the case. It was Shropshire Council that put the contract for bus services out to tender. It has a legal obligation to ensure that public service is adequate. No right minded person would consider a service based on clapped out buses running at half the frequency and costing twice the price as adequate for the town’s needs. Shropshire Council also has a legal duty to ensure that the needs of the elderly and disabled are met. Yet it has approved a service where half the services cannot be accessed by the disabled and the elderly find it difficult to get on board. The council cannot pretend that it could not know that such a poor service would be a consequence of its decision. The bus service in Ludlow has been a disgrace for a long while. We were promised that it would be improved after being tendered, including a Sunday service from the park…

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On Monday, 2 September, Ludlow’s “new” town bus service was launched – and it is not good news. The bus service has been cut by half, the buses plying the remaining two routes are clapped out, and one of the two buses does not have disabled or pushchair access. For the best part of a year, Shropshire Council has been saying that people in the town should wait for the bus services to be retendered. After this, the council claimed, we would see improvements. That hasn’t happened. The new service is actually much worse. It is appalling that Shropshire Council thinks this service is adequate. Disabled people and those with mobility problems can’t access much of new service. That’s a disgrace. Vulnerable people will have to order an expensive taxi or remain trapped in their homes unable to get to the shops or the doctors. It’s a requirement under the Transport Act 1985 that Shropshire Council assesses whether a commercial service provides adequate access for the public. If not it can provide a subsidy to facilitate an adequate service. It is a major requirement of the Act that Shropshire Council ensures that services meet the transport needs of members of…

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