Month: September 2014

On Thursday I spoke about the state of the town walls at Shropshire Council, following a question to Shropshire Council leader Keith Barrow. It was not a very successful session, with the speaker refusing to allow me to set out the context of why work is urgent. However, Keith did agree to meet me and said he was seeking an urgent solution to the town wall crisis. On Friday, I met with council officers and contractors. The sole purpose of the meeting was to discuss temporary works to stabilise the wall and prevent further damage. Council officers suggested that, realistically, it might be two years before the wall is rebuilt. One proposal will prove very controversial – removal of two hornbeam trees above the breech in the wall.

It’s a truly shocking statistic. Only fourteen planning authorities in England have a worse planning performance than Shropshire (so we are 15th worst out of 338). That’s because the Shropshire Council has failed to invest in its planning operation. And it’s because the council is beholden by big developers and big businesses, not the small builders and entrepreneurs that make this county tick. Back in 2010, we weren’t the best performer in planning but we were a long way from bumping along the bottom [1]. Now we are plummeting towards the abyss of planning failure and are amongst the worst planning authorities in the country. In 2010, there were 94 planning authorities with a worse performance than Shropshire. In 2014, just 14 planning authorities have a worse performance than us.

Of course we don’t want to build Future Fit, a new model for health provision in our area, on fear. But in my view, Future Fit is flawed because it is more theoretical than grounded in the reality of Shropshire’s geography and because I doubt it can be funded. Yesterday, the Future Fit team held its last major workshop on the future of health provision in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Powys. The event in Ludlow Assembly Rooms was attended by more than 100 people. As this stage, the discussion is about issues and options. It’s about getting reaction to a set of top down proposals for radical reorganisation of health services including A&E, planned surgery, Minor Injury Units and community hospitals. The scheme is ambitious and I question whether it is achievable. There will be more care at home and perhaps in GP surgeries – but I did not gain the impression that GPs have been closely involved in this or think they can cope. I heard no mention of carers. The Future Fit model centralises all major operations and significant care needs. It may even lead to a new A&E allied with an Urgent Care Centre midway between…

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A bit of history was made yesterday when Ludlow town council gave the freedom of the town to the Royal Welsh regiment. It was a fantastic occasion, with a parade and ceremony in the Castle, followed by a march around the town watched and applauded by several thousand people. The star of the occasion, especially among children, was the regimental goat, Taffy. Taffy the Regimental Goat with Goat Major Fusilier Owen Ludlow’s links with the Royal Welsh go back more than three centuries. On 16 March 1689 Henry, 4th Lord Herbert of Chirbury, was authorized by King William III to raise the 23rd of Foot [1]. The regiment, soon to be known as the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was raised in the counties of Montgomery, Radnor and Shropshire and assembled in Ludlow Castle. Last year, Ludlow Town Council resolved to give the honorary freedom of the town to the Royal Welsh on the 325th anniversary of the raising. The parade in Ludlow Castle Brigadier RH Wheeler accepts the Freedom of Ludlow It took a lot of work to organise yesterday’s event. We owe our thanks to Ludlow Town councillors, council staff and Henry Chance who all worked incredibly hard to make…

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I will be asking a question on the state of the town wall at full Council next Thursday 25 September. The procedure is that a written question is submitted and answered in advance of the meeting. I then get to ask a supplementary question. In doing so, I will have the opportunity to comment on the current lack of progress in getting the wall repaired. Meanwhile, I am looking for photographs of the churchyard taken more than a year ago. I need photographs of the trees that line the town wall. If you can help, please get in touch. I’ll write more on this at the end of the week. Meanwhile, here is my question and Keith Barrow’s answer from the Council Agenda.

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