Month: September 2014

What a day and what a night! And what a vote! A turnout of 86%! Politicians, the press, pollsters and pundits will be dissecting and spinning this verdict for weeks to come. But I am hoping it will change attitudes in Westminster forever. Has there ever been a bigger turnout for a non-compulsory democratic election anywhere in the world? It’s simply incredible and heart-warming. The depth of political engagement in recent weeks has been greater than anything seen in our island’s history. The “Yes” campaign may have failed but it has succeeded in demonstrating people can still be engaged in democracy in our cynical age. For the first time, we also allowed 16 and 17 year-olds to vote. And they turned out too. We should allow them to vote in all elections from now on. If we engage young people in politics earlier, we might keep them engaged. Who knows, we might even get better politics. I type this as Alex Salmond concedes defeat, with just one result to declare. He is emphasising that more than one and a half million people voted “Yes”. That is a clear mandate for further devolution of power to Scotland. He’s going to insist…

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Charlotte Barnes, the Lib Dem Shropshire Councillor for Bishops Castle, was last night selected by an overwhelming majority of local Liberal Democrats to contest the Ludlow seat at next year’s General Election. Speaking after the selection meeting at the Bishop Mascall Centre in Ludlow on Saturday, Charlotte said: It’s a great honour to be selected to represent the Lib Dems in next year’s contest. I will be following in the footsteps of great local campaigners such as Matthew Green and Heather Kidd. “We face some real challenges in this rural part of Shropshire. We are often neglected by both Central Government and the County. The threat of our hospital services disappearing, falling school rolls and a chaotic slash and burn council are just some of the problems our area faces. Charlotte has built a reputation as a strong local campaigner since her election to Shropshire Council, fighting on issues such as unwanted housing, the town’s youth club and the future of their business park. She is currently pressing the mobile provider EE over the poor signal it provides in southwest Shropshire. Charlotte on Facebook. Charlotte on Twitter. The profile Charlotte is married to Paul Barnes and has two sons, Edward…

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Shropshire Council today announced that superfast broadband will reach more villages and rural hamlets in Shropshire. That’s very good news, but it’s a partial picture. This is the picture for Bromfield that’s given by the council’s Connecting Shropshire project: This map shows Bromfield parish as having superfast broadband available from spring 2015. That’s not quite right. This service will be only be available to the main village and a short way beyond. It will not reach most of the hamlets and farms across Bromfield parish. The superfast connections that are planned will be provided from a single cabinet in the village. That will serve businesses such as the Food Centre well. It is unlikely to be much help to people who struggle to get any internet connection at all on the farms and hamlets towards the Mortimer Forest, Whitbatch and High Walton. Mobile phone signals are also rubbish in those areas. We increasingly rely on broadband for business, education and entertainment. In the near future, we are also likely to rely on the internet for healthcare. We must put more effort into mobile broadband to connect our remoter settlements that copper and fibre broadband will never reach. Mind you, you…

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MP Philip Dunne’s latest email newsletter is out today. Six articles down you can read his views on the health consultation, Future Fit. The consultation concerns yet another health service reorganisation that will reshape A&E and other services. It gives no guarantee our community hospital in Ludlow will continue. In his newsletter, Mr Dunne says: There has already been much misinformation through the local press about this issue, which is already causing anxiety for some local residents and leading others to leap prematurely to the barricades… In reality, Future Fit is still in its early stages. Of course he is right about Future Fit being in its early stages. But I take particular objection to his statement that: There is a particular irony that those making the most noise to ‘defend our NHS’ were also those leading calls for Ludlow not to get a new hospital last year. This statement is ill-informed and downright wrong. The campaign was a protest against relocating the GP surgeries to the Eco Park site leaving no medical services in a town centre, not against a new hospital. Dunne clearly did not have Friday’s local papers in front of him when he wrote today’s newsletter….

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