Ludlow Town Council calls for Castle Street tree to be felled and replaced – I agree

The council’s Representational Committee discussed the application by Shropshire Council to fell a tree in Castle Street car park last night. Agreeing with revised advice from its tree warden, the town council said that the tree could not be rescued as the base of the trunk had begun to rot after water penetrated through the split fork, which is close to the ground. Strapping the tree or selectively cutting its limbs would not therefore work. The council accepts the tree must be felled. But the tree warden and the council want the roots grubbed out and a semi-mature native species tree planted to replace the Norway Maple.

Having received independent advice, I completely agree with this approach. This is a change from my previous position of wanting the tree managed and saved. The biggest challenge will be ensuring the replacement tree is well maintained throughout its life.

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Yet another Norway Maple to be felled in Ludlow – this time it’s Shropshire Council to blame for unnecessary felling (updated)

Shropshire Council is seeking permission to fell a Norway Maple in Castle Street car park. The council plans to reduce it to ground level because there is a split between a major branch and the main trunk. Although this split has been there for a good while, I can understand why the council is concerned that it poses a safety risk to users of the car park. But this does not mean the entire tree should be felled.

The tree is suffering from poor management but it is healthy. It needs arboricultural care, not razing to the ground.

Despite Shropshire Council declaring a climate emergency just weeks ago, there are no plans for a replacement tree.

An update is provided at the end of this article. See also my subsequent article.

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Hedgehog highways and swift bricks must be installed in new developments, ministers say as they rush out announcements

New national planning guidance published on Sunday by communities secretary James Brokenshire orders developers to do more to protect wildlife. Ludlow Swift Group will welcome his insistence that developers install swift bricks in new homes. Pricklebums Hedgehog Rescue and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society will welcome the obligation for developers to install hedgehog highways. There is more to this guidance which strengthens requirements for developers and councils to seek a net gain in biodiversity when developments are built.

This is a welcome announcement but there is wriggle room in the guidance and a lot will depend on local interpretation. Wildlife groups and communities will need to lobby Shropshire Council to ensure that its forthcoming local plan has the strongest measures possible to protect and enhance biodiversity. Those measures might include a “greening factor”.

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Shropshire Council throws out plans for a community lottery – it is obsessed with major building schemes and is leaving rural communities behind

Shropshire Council has rejected the idea of a community lottery for our county. The idea, which I proposed in December 2017, was to create a county wide lottery framework to allow small organisations such as village halls to sell lottery tickets. Although the council’s deputy leader claimed then that the council was already looking at a scheme, it is only now that we have the council’s view a lottery is not on.

I don’t buy its reasons for rejection – that it will divert money from other causes and that it will encourage gambling. The real reason is that it will not generate an income stream for the council and the council is not going to help communities unless it can make a profit. Shropshire Council has become obsessed with major building and investment schemes in the north of the county and has left rural communities behind.

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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.

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