Category: Social exclusion

Shropshire Council went ahead and cancelled the rural Link service today. The buses are still running, but only for schools. Disabled and elderly people will need to use dial-a-ride community transport, which will run shorter distances, less frequently.  Hereabouts, that’s the Ludlow Traveller service. There was never any need to scrap Link. It was costly but it did not need to be so. Bizarrely buses were based in Shrewsbury, even if they only ever ran 30 miles away in the south of the county. Passenger numbers grew substantially from Link’s launch in December 2008 to a peak of around 3,000 passengers a month in mid-2012.  From end of 2012, they have declined, though now seem to seem to be fairly static at around 2,500 a month. This compares to an average of 1,005 passengers a month on the previous fixed rural services. Nearly 3,000 school students use the service each…

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I was astounded to hear Shropshire Council’s Cecelia Motley speak on BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday morning (begins at 2:36). Her message was spot on about the way that national funds are diverted to urban areas at the expense of rural districts. She has been a strong champion of the need for a better funding deal. But forgive me if I despair that that Shropshire’s three conservative MPs and its Conservative council cabinet have been talking about better funding for sparsely populated counties like Shropshire for years. A fair deal is not even in sight at the moment. It lies in only in those promissory notes of politics. Few people think this one will ever be cashed in. But that’s not the reason I’m angry with Cecelia. I’m infuriated because she failed to acknowledge that there is urban rural divide here in Shropshire too. Drop into Shrewsbury and you can ride…

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The bedroom tax that comes into force today slaps an extra £14 a week on social tenants with a room that is deemed to be “spare”. This tax is iniquitous. It will undermine families, communities and friendships. It will not solve the fundamental problem of a shortage of affordable housing. It will force tenants to divert money from food and heating, and risk their health in doing so. What daft person in Westminster failed to realise that families need stability and that this will be undermined by shuffling them around according to an arbitrary view of need for bedrooms? What should the government have done? It should end the Right to Buy which reduces stock housing stock. It should allow more homes to be built by permitting councils to increase borrowing against future rental income. This would boost local employment, as well as creating wider opportunities for social tenants to…

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If it’s not the state – and national government and many local councils seem increasingly disinterested – if it’s not charities – and many are stretched beyond the limits of their resources – then who will take up the cause for those that are poor, jobless, old or infirm? In Ludlow at least, that crusade is set to be taken up the churches. Yesterday evening, as the first hard frost of the winter chilled the town’s historic streets, more than 200 people crowded into the Methodist Church. They were gathering to discuss a distressing report on the crisis facing many of Ludlow’s poorer and vulnerable residents. “Ludlow under Pressure: a report on urgent social needs” has been compiled over several months by Churches Together Around Ludlow (CTAL). It is a wakeup call for anyone so entranced by the town’s historic and natural beauty that they fail to see the poverty…

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