Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… It’s fun in Ludlow and we have our very own snow dog

This severe weather event has been great fun for kids and adults alike.

For the last two days, Gallows Bank has been the training ground for future Winter Olympic champions. And snow people are appearing around the town. They include the best snow dog I have ever seen. It’s in Ludlow Market Square.

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Snow news for Ludlow – schools, buses, bins, GPs… (updated at 16.00pm)

This post is no longer being updated but more tomorrow as the big freeze continues.

The snowfall is over, maybe the occasional flurry. But the packed snow and ice will be with us for some days. The BBC is suggesting temperatures as low as -11C tonight. Stay safe. Stay warm. Please check on your neighbours. All schools in the area are closed on Monday and other services are disrupted. I’ll update this as news comes in. Non-stop updates on BBC Radio Shropshire from 6am. @shropcouncil is tweeting like mad, putting out more than 150 tweets yesterday alone. If there is any message you want to get out, let me know.

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Question, questions, questions at Shropshire Council on Thursday but fewer in future

One of the main ways councillors and the public can find out what is happening in Shropshire Council, and make political points, is to ask questions or deliver petitions. There are several interesting questions at next Thursday’s Council meeting, including on affordable housing, recycling and business rates. The council will also consider plans to limit public questions at future meetings.

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Should we run a county lottery to replace community funds that Shropshire Council won’t now provide?

Public funding for the community sector is sinking fast. Our youth budget is miniscule. Discretionary grants are evaporating. Faced with similar gaps in funding, some councils have launched local lotteries giving up to 60% of the ticket price to local good causes chosen by residents. It is time that we considered running a lottery for Shropshire. At next Thursday’s Shropshire Council meeting, I will be asking council officers to investigate the case for a countywide community lottery.
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Social mobility in Shropshire is in free fall – we are failing young people

It is not a surprise that the remaining members of the government’s Social Mobility Commission have resigned this weekend.[1] Anger has been growing for months that the government has been distracted from improving individual lives by the demands of Brexit.

Shropshire is one of the worst areas in England for young people to get out of the trap of struggling households and poor education. Last week, the county was ranked the 237th worst out of 324 local authorities for social mobility.[2] Just a year before, we were at rank 185. We have skidded downwards.

Social mobility is important. When it works, people from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds get on in life, gaining the education and skills they need and getting better paid jobs. But the latest data show that Shropshire is going backwards in the social mobility stakes.

The Social Mobility Commission, which compiles the data, has made it clear that the biggest problem that Shropshire faces is that it is failing to support young people. Our county now is almost at the bottom of the league table for youth in the social mobility rankings. We are ranked at position 292 out of the 324 English local authorities. That’s utterly dismal.

Young people living in poorer households are in our county failing to get access to further and higher education. Many of them are scared stiff by the lack of financial support and the loans needed to pay for their education. The paucity of higher education facilities in our county creates an environment where it is incredibly hard to inspire youngsters to go on to the future innovators and entrepreneurs.

It is shocking that just 1% of poorer young people in Shropshire go on to higher education.[3] Compare that to London, where the average for the age group is around 10%. Across England, the average is 5%. Hear clearly, we are so badly behind we are failing young people in our county.

It isn’t right that young people growing up in more disadvantaged backgrounds in Shropshire don’t get as many chances to improve their life chances as those as other areas. We must do more to support their interests. That will not only good for young people. It could also give a huge boost our local economy.

Social mobility ranking for ShropshireNotes

[1]. Reports on resignations: BBC, The Times, The Times, Guardian.

[2]. 2017 data. 2016 data. BBC interactive.

[3]. In this context, poverty is defined as children eligible for free school males. The latest data from the commission is for 2014/15.