Shropshire Council plumps for highest housing growth option because it needs the cash

Next Wednesday, the council cabinet is expected to agree a much higher rate of growth in housing and employment land across the county. The government says we need to build 1,270 new homes a year. Shropshire Council wants to build 1,440 dwellings every year for the next 20 years.

Nearly 60% of people and organisations that responded to a consultation earlier this year wanted a lower level of growth. But the council wants the business rates from higher employment growth, so it says more housing is needed.

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Our fear is that Ludlow independent shops will fold, says my letter in today’s Times

The Times has run a series of articles highlighting the harm that rises in rateable values and business rates will cause rural businesses. Yesterday, the newspaper had a first page headline: “Punitive business rates threaten rural way of life.” I am sure there were a lot of responses and four of us were lucky enough to have our letters published in today’s edition.

My letter, as you might expect, concentrated on the impact on business rates hikes in Ludlow. I said “Our fear is that these independent shops will fold and will be replaced by the chain retailers”:

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Ludlow Nut Company to move to Foldgate Lane

The Ludlow Nut Company is one of Ludlow’s many success stories. It is now planning to move from the Eco Park.

The company was set up by Helen and Bob Graham in 2004. It’s gone from strength to strength and is outgrowing its Eco Park premises. An application has been submitted for a new unit on the vacant plot on the Foldgate Lane retail area, between Pets at Home and the Hagley Place Care Home.

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Mixed fortunes and trouble ahead after changes to Ludlow’s business rates

Last year, the government revalued all 1.96 million non-domestic properties in England and Wales.[1] In England, rateable values will be increased by an average of 10% from 1 April 2017. Across Shropshire, they are going up 13%. And here in Ludlow rateable values are going up by an eyewatering 37%, nearly four times the national average.[2]

This does not bode well for the future of local businesses, though in the short term there is more good news than bad. Over the next five years increases in business rates will be reduced by a complex series of reliefs and changes to the way that business rates are calculated.[3]

In the year from April, Ludlow businesses will pay a total of £300,000 less in business rates compared to this year. Nearly 400 businesses will pay no rates at all over the next five years. It’s not such good news for the 200 businesses that do pay rates. By 2021/22, they will be paying £385,000 extra, an increase of 11%.[4] Most of these businesses are in the vital retail sector.

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Gender pay gap widens in Ludlow area as women’s wages fall

New data released by the Office of National Statistics today show a general improvement in wages across the south of Shropshire. But women’s wages are falling.

Men’s pay has gone up. Women’s pay has gone down. Men in the Ludlow area earn about £2 an hour above the national average. Women work for a rate that is around £2 below the national average.

The gender pay gap is reducing nationally, albeit slowly, but here in the Ludlow constituency it is widening.

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