Category: Politics

Elections 2021: Shropshire Council unitary candidates announced including Ludlow

Local elections will take place on 6 May, now just under four weeks away. Today, Shropshire Council has published the list of candidates for the 74 unitary seats up for grabs. Three candidates will compete in Ludlow South and Clee. There will be four candidates in Ludlow North and Ludlow East. The Lib Dems, Green Party and Conservatives are standing for all four local seats. Labour is fielding a candidate in Ludlow East and an independent is standing in Ludlow North.

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.

Local councils have been meeting online during the pandemic. After a few teething problems, the practice of meeting online has worked well. But yesterday the government declared councils must meet in public after 7 May. Many councillors think this is too early. A good many councils, including Ludlow Town Council and Shropshire Council, do not have suitable buildings to accommodate all their councillors, let alone members of the public, while social distancing remains in place. Will any councillors or members of the public want to attend the cramped Ludlow Town Council meeting in the Guildhall on 24 May? Or the Shropshire Council meeting four days earlier, with its 74 councillors and at least 25 officers and public attending in a chamber set out like a university lecture hall? This is retrograde move that will reduce the effectiveness of local democracy. Not for once, ministers are out of touch with reality. The compulsory return to face to face for councils is only happening because local government has long been an afterthought in the government’s deliberations (and, for that matter, allocation of funding). Parliament has run out of time to debate the required legislation that would extend powers for online meetings. Faced…

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Why are the Tories running so scared on highways that they need to leak their own manifesto? But that was what happened in a scrutiny committee today. In breach of every understanding of how ‘independent’ scrutiny committees work, the deputy leader of the council launched the Tory manifesto for highways mid meeting. We are of course gearing up for elections in May. But manifestos are not council business. The Conservatives don’t understand that. Today was appalling and at least two formal complaints have been lodged. But why are the Tories so scared they needed to launch their highways manifesto in a fairly obscure meeting?

Shropshire Conservatives refuse to support the Climate and Ecology (CEE) Bill but set up a committee to tell them how to think

Why should you do something today when you can do it tomorrow, even if you should have done it yesterday? That is the attitude of Shropshire Council’s Conservative members when it comes to tackling climate change. Why should they rush to deal with an emergency when they can take a gentle stroll?   The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is currently languishing parliament. But support for the bill, which sets out what priorities the UK needs in place to meet its climate change targets and tackle the ecological crisis, is strong. That’s why a cross-party motion to give an expression of support the bill was tabled at Shropshire Council yesterday. But the council’s portfolio holder for climate change kicked the motion into the long grass, supported by a fellow Conservative who complained about the potential costs to the council of the bill. How much does an expression of support cost? Failure to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies will cost us our planet.

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