Update 19 September 2019
Despite having declared a climate emergency, Conservation councillors voted to extend the M54 from Telford to Shrewsbury. They argued that was the only way that we would attact bigger companies to the county. I argued for investment in sustainable transport including trains. The motion was passed by the Conservative majority.
Climate emergency. Bah humbug!
What is wrong with Shropshire Council? Instead of concentrating on the special qualities of our county, its greenness and quality of life, they want it to be just like Leeds or Birmingham. The latest idea from the environmentally dysfunctional council leadership is to extend the M54 to Shrewsbury. They know this will do nothing to improve traffic flow. It’s a smooth flowing road and everything ends up in a queue at Preston Boats anyway. But the reason the petrol heads at Shropshire Council want to extend the motorway is to attract foreign investors. They want to open North Shropshire and parts of Mid Wales for massive, sprawling development.
The motion before Shropshire Council tomorrow is nothing more than a vanity project from council leaders that wish stamp their outdated legacy on the county. That legacy will be concrete and pollution. The legacy will be a failure to address the climate emergency that Shropshire Council declared only in May. I have no doubt that the Conservative majority on Shropshire Council will be whipped into supporting the proposal for a motorway at the council meeting tomorrow. And it won’t stop there. Soon, the motorway will push to Oswestry and Wrexham.
This just shows that council leaders’ acquiescence to declaring a climate emergency last May was nothing more than a sham.
Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, has never made it a secret that he wants much of Shropshire to covered with concrete and blanketed with pollution. He has boasted up the prospects of an international airport for commercial passenger flights at Cosford, later downgrading his ambitions to a freight airport.
His latest proposal is to extend the M54 from Wellington to Shrewsbury. This has nothing to do with increasing the capacity of the route for traffic. The argument is that foreign investors will not invest anywhere without a motorway. The motion has been put forward by Peter Adams, a Shrewsbury Tory. It is countersigned by Dean Carroll, the cabinet member for climate change. The motion says:
Shropshire is experiencing a prolonged period of sustained growth, and this needs to be enhanced and reinforced with the continued levels of house building in the County. There is a need for increased levels of investment in the County’s infrastructure.
With this in mind I would like Council to accept the above proposal. Foreign investors use decisions as to where they put their money and often rely on knowledge of the motorway systems of the Countries being examined, and in this respect, Shropshire is weak.
No one thinks that “foreign” investors are that dumb. Overseas investors have access to a vast portfolio of information provided through investment advisers. They know the lie of the land – I am talking economically rather than topographically here. For logistics operations involving bulk or fresh supplies, Shropshire and our neighbours in Mid Wales are not that practical. We are too far from a hungry population in the cities.
But beware. If the M54 gets to Shrewsbury, there will be demands to extend it to Oswestry and Wrexham.
We could instead sell the special qualities of our county. Top of the list is its quality of life. That gives us the ability to attract well paid workers, often working online, who can’t stand the rat race and the pollution of urbanised Britain.
But instead of reinventing Shropshire as a modern progressive county, Shropshire Council’s leaders are trying to take us back to the past. They lust for a motorways boom. Just as Leeds and many other cities did in the 60s and 70s.
The councillors proposing this motion could have argued for greater investment in rail. An electrified lines from Birmingham. A more reliable rail service on through the Marches. They could have said we should have the best rural bus service in the country.
But the petrol heads that run Shropshire Council are only concerned about cars. They never talk about trains. They want to cut back bus services. They lust for motorways. The old days of concrete and belching pollution. Bugger this green stuff. Sod the future. Council leaders only understand bricks, mortar and acres of tarmac.
This just shows that council leaders’ agreement to declaring a climate emergency in May was nothing more than a sham. I think we knew that anyway. They haven’t disappointed us. They have just confirmed that we should be disappointed with them.