Month: August 2014

Shropshire Council is rapidly reducing public oversight of public services paid for with public money. Its latest move is to create a new non-profit enterprise to manage public health services. That’s a good idea. But it wants transfer the new enterprise into its shadowy company ip&e. That’s a bad idea. In April 2013, the government transferred responsibility for public health to local councils, including Shropshire Council. Public health services are about improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of communities. They aim to prevent illness by addressing the causes of ill-health, including lifestyle, living and working conditions. In July this year, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet resolved to create a new non-profit enterprise – Help2Change – to integrate health prevention services in the county. It will embrace services such as NHS Health Checks, Help2Quit and Help2Slim. Next Wednesday 3 September, a special meeting of the Cabinet will be held mostly behind closed doors to agree the transfer of Help2Change to ip&e, the council’s semi-secret private company. No paperwork is yet online for a meeting just 72 hours away but we need have no doubt that the Cabinet will approve the transfer. The idea of grouping help prevention services into a not-for-profit enterprise…

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Shropshire Council is consulting on its Empty Homes Strategy (closes 20 September). The number of empty homes in Shropshire is higher than the national average and the number of long term empty homes in the county is increasing. That’s a worrying at a time when we have a housing crisis across the nation. It is worth noting that statistics in this field are difficult to compile accurately [1]. Councils rely on council tax records and local reports. Now that penal council tax rates are imposed on owners of empty homes, it is likely that some owners will find ways to ensure empty dwellings appear occupied. For example, a property that is unoccupied but remains furnished will not attract penal rates here in Shropshire and many other local authorities. Here’s how it works in Shropshire Council’s patch. A property that becomes unoccupied and unfurnished receives a one month exemption from council tax. After that the owner gets a 25% discount for five months. The full rate then kicks in. Once two years have passed, any properties that remain unoccupied and unfurnished pay 150% council tax. It’s a good regime and the number of recorded empty homes overall is falling. But Shropshire…

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Arguments rage but nothing is being done other than pass the buck. That’s the current story of Ludlow’s collapsed town walls. Eighteen months after the walls collapsed, eighteen months after Shropshire Council promised that money was no object in securing a repair, we are rapidly approaching stalemate. South Shropshire Journal 22 August 2014 I can’t get involved in deciding who might be responsible for the repair bill. That’s a legal matter. But I have raged against Shropshire Council which made political capital on promises to repair the wall a year-and-a-half ago, and has treaded bureaucratic water since.  

From 1 September, bus times between Ludlow and Kidderminster will change. There will be a much improved service, the 2L, which replaces the 292. 2L Timetable from 01-09-2014 (was 292) (PDF) Seven buses will run from Ludlow to Kidderminster from Monday to Friday, up from the current six. The first bus from Ludlow will be earlier, at 8.40am and last bus back from Kidderminster will be an hour later, departing at 17.25. There will be a later bus to Cleobury Mortimer at 18.20. On Saturday, there will be eight buses from Ludlow to Kidderminster, two more than at present. The first will leave at 8.40am and the last at 18.46pm. Coming back from Kidderminster, the last bus to Ludlow is 17.25pm and to Cleobury at 18.15. Richard Huffer, Shropshire councillor for Clee Hill, welcomes the new timetable. “It is great to hear that we are to get more buses. Usually we only hear of buses being cut back. The 292 has been a vital service for people who live in the Cleobury and Clee area who need to get to the shops, go to school and college, and visit their friends. The new 2L services looks set to be even better….

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Update Extra buses were introduced by Herefordshire Council on 11 May 2015. Up to date timetables. Main Article After Shropshire Council refused to support the 492 service between Hereford and Ludlow, the service ends on Sunday 30 August. On the new 490 route, buses will only come into Ludlow four times a day, and not at all at the weekend (the timetable is below). I am really quite shocked that we are to lose this popular bus service. The plan is that the 490 will run the 19 miles from Leominster to Orleton and then turn back without servicing Ludlow. It will only come to town twice a day to drop off and pick up college students. There will be no service at all at weekends and during the school vacations. This bus brings a lot of people into town, not just from villages in Herefordshire, but also from Overton, Batchcott and Richard’s Castle. These settlements will have no bus service at all, except for the school run which is not convenient for many people. The route is also popular with walkers and with visitors who use the new Ludlow Touring Park at Overton. I asked Claire Wild, the portfolio…

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