Category: Local Elections 2021

Conservatives are promising fantasy money for highways – Floreat Salopia Ollam Foraminis?

The Conservatives have promised an extra £40 million for highways if they are re-elected. At a committee meeting early in the month, council officers confirmed that this money could not be found within the planned budget but will have to come from grants, extra government funding, cuts to other budgets and the council’s diminishing reserves. The £40 million is fantasy money, not a commitment. The Conservatives have cut £10 million from the highways budget over the last two years. They have been able to make up a bit of ground through one off government grants for potholes and to repair highways after severe weather. But the road network is so decayed in many areas, especially rural roads, the council is not managing catchup. Perhaps it is time to change the county’s motto from Floreat Salopia to Floreat Salopia Ollam Foraminis. (Please excuse my cod Latin. Corrections welcome in the comments!)

Elections 2021: Ludlow Town Council nominations announced – I am disappointed by the lack of new faces

I confess I am disappointed. There are fifteen seats on Ludlow Town Council. But there are only two candidates for the 6 May election who don’t already sit on the council. One is me and I am elected unopposed to Gallows Bank Ward, the area I live in. That makes sense to me as I deal with a lot of local issues already. Another new face is Alan Tapley, who will standing in Bringewood Ward. This will be the only contested election on 6 May. Everyone else is elected unopposed. No one is standing for Clee View Ward. Those two seats will be co-opted, as will a vacant seat on Hayton Ward unless the town council decides to hold by-elections. All councils need new faces and new ideas. Councils and councillors need to face a degree of challenge. Challenge focuses the mind and drives innovation rather than the same old thing drifting on. I am disappointed that more people have not put their name forward.

As campaign to protect potholes grows, Shropshire Council pledges to fly the Union Jack from longstanding potholes

Potholes are part of our everyday life. As everyday as the shopping basket though rather more destructive of the wheels of cars, let alone the danger they pose to cyclists. But some potholes are exceptional and have gained celebrity status. Concerned about the continued destruction of potholes, Shropshire Councillor Andy Boddington, a former archaeologist, is calling for the county’s most distinctive potholes to be protected with a Grade II listing from Historic England. He has also applauded the new tradition of pothole dressing. Dismissing the councillor’s views, the leader of Shropshire Council has decreed that all long standing potholes in the public highway should fly Union Flags to prevent further damage to the county’s pothole heritage by distracted drivers.

Shropshire Council to use council meeting to smooth over highways problems ahead of 6 May local elections

Despite the clear restrictions on what council business can be conducted in the run up to an election, Shropshire Council’s administration has scheduled a meeting on its contractors’ performance on highways maintenance next Tuesday. It seems that the council is not aware that highways are a political issue and a battleground in many council areas around the county. Among the reports to be considered by the Place Overview Committee next Tuesday is one on the struggling highways contractor Kier, the company responsible for delivering highways repairs at a cost of £27m a year. The report admits to three years of failings but makes the case improvements are being made. This is a smoothie view of highways. If only our highways were smooth.

The decision for Shropshire to become a unitary council from May 2009 is still resented here in south west Shropshire. Under Shropshire Council’s first leader, it led to a huge centralisation of control in Shropshire and the sucking of rural resources into Shrewsbury and Oswestry. It was not going unitary that was the problem. It was the transfer of power from rural Shropshire to Shrewsbury. That was never a requirement of going unitary. We can’t go back the local governance arrangements we had before 2009. But we can strengthen local democracy across the county by setting up powerful area committees with powers over local decisions, local funding and the right to scrutinise and challenge Shirehall. The committees will help level up funding between urban and rural Shropshire. It is time for the rural voice to be as loud as the urban voice. Across the nation and here in Shropshire.

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