FIT strategy for Shropshire buses published as mood changes against bus cuts

The mood is changing on buses. For many years, rural bus services have been cut back. They are threatened with more cuts as council finances dwindle. Now Shropshire Council has said it will roll back some of the planned bus cuts after a consultation produced an unprecedented response from bus users. But the council still lacks an up to date bus strategy and a plan for long term investment in the bus network.

Bus campaigners are stepping into the gap. At the end of last month, the Foundation for Integrated Transport (FIT) has published a report on Shropshire Rural Buses. The author, Professor John Whitelegg says failure is embedded in the current system and change is now necessary. His report concludes:

“It is in fact very easy indeed to provide high quality rural public transport in a way that supports vibrant, healthy, economically successful rural communities and contributes to keeping young people in those communities.”

That’s ambitious. But why shouldn’t we be ambitious for the future of buses? It is time to halt the endless cutbacks and invest in the county’s bus networks.

Continue reading “FIT strategy for Shropshire buses published as mood changes against bus cuts”

Why is the county getting two more empty homes every week? We need urgent action

There is a rule of thumb in housing. It is much easier to give permission to build new homes, most of them on green fields, than to bring empty homes back into use. Empty homes are a growing problem here in Shropshire where the number of homes empty for at least six months is increasing at the rate of two a month. We have a bigger proportion of our housing stock empty than England as a whole.

There were 4,460 empty homes in Shropshire last year, 1,654 of which had been vacant for more than six months. The waiting list for social housing stood at 5,227 households at the beginning of the year. One effective way of reducing that would be to take urgent action to bring more empty homes into use. But Shropshire Council seems to have given up on empty homes.

Continue reading “Why is the county getting two more empty homes every week? We need urgent action”

Shropshire Council’s chaotic scrutiny meeting ignored the 18% downturn in trade since parking charges were hiked in Ludlow

On 5 June, the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee met to discuss the controversial changes to parking charges. Committee papers were sent out just 26 hours before. I doubt that all committee members had read all ten documents. Officers also sprung a huge amount of crammed onto overcrowded slides on a hard to see screen. I am not convinced that any member of the committee was adequately briefed for the decisions they were to make. Certainly not the chair of the committee who was unaware that officers had proposed a series of recommendations.

The committee and officers seemed to be oblivious to the evidence gathered by Ludlow Town Council that shows independent trade is down by 18% in the first few months of this year compared to last year despite the milder weather.  

The committee agreed to review the extent of the Red and Blue Zones. Residents with on-street permits will be able to park in car parks and may also be able to apply for a second permit. Owners of a holiday let will be able to apply for an on-street parking permit for guests. Tickets purchased on a phone will be 10p cheaper.

Continue reading “Shropshire Council’s chaotic scrutiny meeting ignored the 18% downturn in trade since parking charges were hiked in Ludlow”

Shropshire Council reconsiders bus cuts – that’s good news but we await the details

Update

On 12 June, the Cabinet agreed the following:

Local Bus Services

  • To not implement the reduction or removal of services as consulted, but where the consultation feedback has highlighted genuine efficiencies or cost pressures those will be focussed upon.  
  • To amend the Council’s 2019/20 budget and reduce the planned reduction in the public transport budget from £405,000 to £180,000.

Future Public Transport Services

  • To commence a review of the current operation and future opportunities for, improved public transport services across Shropshire, including reviewing concessionary travel and the opportunities for bus franchising.

The Cabinet also recommended increases on some Shrewsbury park and ride charges but deferred other increases until they have been reviewed.

Continue reading “Shropshire Council reconsiders bus cuts – that’s good news but we await the details”

Waste dumped on Castle Street car park – some is identifiable, I have collected evidence and requested a prosecution

Fly-tipping is increasing everywhere. In our county it will not be helped by the closure of recycling bring banks. We have several incidents in Ludlow in recent weeks. By far the worst is also by far the most shocking.

A pile of stinking rubbish and packaging has been dumped in the Castle Street car park. Food waste. Plastic bottles. Cartons. But also packaging for items sent through the Royal Mail and courier services. These identify the culprits and I have asked Shropshire Council to consider a prosecution.

The real shock is that some of this material is addressed to people who I thought were responsible and working in the best interests of Ludlow. Fly-tipping is utterly irresponsible and if the council decides to act the perpetrators could face substantial fines, even a spell at Her Majesty’s Pleasure (though that is very unlikely).

We are a beautiful town. Our car parks might not be as beautiful as the historic streets but they should be clean and tidy, not piled up high with debris. People who say they are promoting our town seem to be desecrating it.

Continue reading “Waste dumped on Castle Street car park – some is identifiable, I have collected evidence and requested a prosecution”