Shropshire Council’s leadership has launched “The Big Conversation”, a five-year long consultation on the future of council services. This is an important survey and it is important that people take part in it. But I have my doubts about how much difference it will make to what the council leadership does. I hope to be proved wrong but the track record of this leadership is not good. It has ignored the outcomes of previous consultations and shown that it neither listens nor learns.
Here in Ludlow, the council conducted two consultations over the Coder Road recycling and waste centre. Both received a unanimous response against the closure so the cabinet closed the facility anyway. The consultation on using converting half of our Youth Centre into offices was a sham. The builders moved in well before the consultation closed and Shropshire Council staff moved just one a day after the consultation formally ended. This pattern has been repeated with consultations across the county.
Shropshire Council’s leaders say the Big Conversation will be different. I hope so. The Big Conversation must be more than a repackaging of what the council has been doing for years. It must be more than a public relations exercise. It must be more than the council seeking a public mandate for decisions that it has already made. It must be more than a council that is acting politically.
I am sorry to say, the early portents for the Big Conversation are not good.