Month: May 2014

On Radio Shropshire earlier this week, portfolio holder Ann Hartley and Karen Bradshaw Director of children’s services announced changes to hikes in post-16 transport to sixth form and college. This follows a consultation which fairly predictably came out against the huge leap in fares. Shropshire Council had planned to hike the cost of a bus pass from £550 to £878 a year from September. Now it is going to phase the increase over three years. Following the consultation, students will have to pay £658 during the next academic year. That’s still an eye-watering hike of £324 a year, but it’s a lot better that Shropshire Council’s initial proposal. But over three years, the cost is set to hike 60%. For students whose families receive benefits, the costs of a pass will rise from £10 to £22.50 a term next year, increasing to £47.50 in 2016. This may not seem a…

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For those involved in planning, land supply often seems to be the only game in town. Where a council has not identified enough land for housing developments over the next five years, developers believe they can build almost anywhere. This has led to a degree of panic in some councils, with planners and councillors approving pans which would otherwise have been rejected. The Shropshire Star reported Shropshire Council officers telling a meeting: “You can get speculative development on the edges of villages one after one after one. There is no way we can so no to these.” A subsequent planning meeting was not only reported in the Star but also the Daily Mail. That’s because members of the Central Planning Committee described applications as “awful”, “horrendous” and “dangerous” before approving them. The councillors reluctantly granted these applications because our county doesn’t have a five year land supply. The problem is…

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“It would be so nice if something would make sense for a change,” said Alice in Wonderland. The funding for the Buttercross heritage centre has finally been approved, but Ludlow Town Council has only to November to complete the project. This is despite Shropshire Council earlier saying work in the Grade I listed building could extend to until the end of March 2015. Shropshire Council’s leader Keith Barrow has said many times that the council must become more business-like. No business would tolerate this dilly-dallying around and confusion over a small contract like this. Shropshire Council is now setting a deadline that will be really hard to meet because of the delays its own tortured bureaucracy has created.

Ouch! The Lib Dems lost a lot of local council seats last Thursday. And last night we lost our West Midlands Euro MP Phil Bennion, who gained just 44% of the vote he won in 2009. I’m sorry to see Phil go, he has worked hard for his patch including for us here in Shropshire. The Lib Dems were all but wiped in the European elections. Our vote share halved to a miserable 6.9% and we came fifth behind the Greens. There was no local election in Shropshire and most of the wards elected last Thursday were in urban areas. So this result tells us much more about how the major towns and cities vote and less about deeply rural areas like Ludlow. The Lib Dems are past masters at localism. Many of us are elected because of our local stance and because we work hard for the community. But…

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Hopes are growing for a pedestrian crossing on Old Street after councillor Viv Parry presented a case to Shropshire Council. We have been concerned about pedestrian safety in Old Street for some time. Drivers are often going at some speed as they come downhill out of the 20mph limit. Some put their foot down as they go uphill towards the town centre. A lot of children cross the road on their way to and from St Laurence’s school. We need to ensure that they are safe. The school is working very hard to get this crossing. I visited the school with the council officers responsible for highways. After that, the children went door to door along Old Street asking residents if they wanted the crossing. Elderly people also need a safe crossing to and from the sheltered housing at the Fees. The good news is that Shropshire Council is now…

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