Month: October 2019

We are heading for an election. Are you registered to vote? Do you want a postal vote? Here are the details

It’s been decided. The general election will be on 12 December. That’s quite short notice so it’s worth checking that you are registered to vote at your current address as soon as you can. You should complete the Household Enquiry Form every year to ensure you keep your vote. You’ll be okay if you responded to the form that came by post a few weeks back and probably still okay if you didn’t. You may wish to register for a postal vote. This is a winter vote and there is no predicting what the weather will be like. You might also be sunning yourself on a beach somewhere. In which case, I will be envious. Whatever your situation, you might think a postal vote more convenient for this election. This article explains the registration and voting procedures, including electoral arrangements for students and people who have no fixed address.

As the Brexit skirmishes continue, it is easy to lose track of other important pieces of legislation struggling to get parliamentary time. One of those is the Environment Bill. The second reading of the bill on 23 October was abruptly cancelled to make way for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. That’s ironic as a large part of the Environment Bill is concerned with reinstating the environmental protection the UK will lose if it ceases to a member of the EU. The bill aims for a lot more, including a deposit return scheme for drinks containers, measures to improve air quality, and rules to ensure biodiversity net gain from housing and some other developments. It’s a great forward looking bill. At least, that’s what ministers say. In practice the bill is colander bill. It is full of holes. It fails to incorporate the principle of non-regression into law. It sets 2037 as the earliest date for any environmental targets and those targets are at the behest of ministers. It allows environmental policies to be watered down by ministers at a whim, including the target for biodiversity gain. It is a bill that takes the emergency out of the climate emergency.

In March, a new proposal was submitted to build eight homes of modern design in the grounds of Linney House. Now Shropshire Council’s planning officers have said the plans contravene planning policy and are likely to be refused. A letter sent to the site developer eight days ago is a lengthy 14 pages. But the message it conveys is clear. The environmental damage and harm to the Ludlow Conservation Area from the proposed scheme would be unacceptable. At most, three houses can be accommodated on the site and there is already permission for this. Shropshire Council is likely to reject the current application to increase the number of houses to eight. The planners’ letter does not mark the end of this seven-year attempt to build in woodland in the garden of the Grade II listed Linney House. The developer must decide whether to withdraw the current application or press ahead regardless. If the plans are turned down, he might appeal to the planning inspectorate. He would also be within his rights to go to planning inspectorate for a decision without waiting for a formal decision from the council. Or he might opt to build the scheme for three large houses…

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Ludlow Aldi wants to extend delivery hours on Sundays to 7am to 10pm to the detriment of residents

Aldi wants greater flexibility in delivery hours. On Sundays and bank holidays, it is permitted deliveries for six hours from 8am and 4pm. It wants these hours more than doubled to allow deliveries between 7am to 10pm. The application comes with a detailed noise assessment for the store area but this takes no account of noise created as delivery vehicles arrive and depart along Gravel Hill and Henley Road. I don’t think residents should be disturbed by 7am deliveries on Sundays when the store doesn’t open until 10am. Aldi is seeking to extend delivery hours at several of its stores. But Tesco’s delivery hours in Ludlow on Sundays and bank holidays have been 9am to 4pm since 2013. If Tesco can thrive with those hours, so can Aldi. There has been a suggestion that Aldi and Tesco use a different route for deliveries into Ludlow rather than along Gravel Hill. I would welcome views on that.

In May, Shropshire Council agreed to follow the lead of councils around the country and declare a climate emergency. But the council leader would not allow councillors to set a deadline for the council or the county becoming carbon neutral. The result was a declaration of a climate emergency without any sense of emergency. A petition from Shewsbury Friends of the Earth published on the council website today calls on the council to achieve net carbon zero emissions from the council’s activities by 2030. It is vital that the council achieves carbon neutrality by 2030. That will contribute towards the future of the planet. It will also to show civic leadership towards employers and businesses across the county and encourage them to put future carbon neutrality at the core of their business plans. I urge everyone to sign this petition. If it gains 1,000 signatures in the next few weeks, it will be debated in the council chamber on 12 December.

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