Throughout Shropshire, and across the country, minibuses and cars are ferrying people to GPs, hospitals, shops and to meet their friends. The benefits are huge. Community transport services in Shropshire make more than 100,000 passenger journeys a year, with passenger spending averaging £30 a trip. The of community transport benefits in reducing social isolation and promoting wellbeing are substantial. But a threat is looming. A new interpretation by civil servants of EU regulations may make many community transport schemes unviable. That will harm rural and vulnerable communities across Shropshire.
The wind has been blowing hard since yesterday afternoon. Today is recycling day for parts of Ludlow and many other areas. And once again, we are seeing the all too familiar scene of plastics and tins being blown from the recycling boxes and littering the streets. What is Shropshire Council planning to do about this? Absolutely nothing.
The cost of on-street resident’s permits is to rise from £50 to £100 a year. Shropshire Council says the scheme will improve parking opportunities for residents in restricted areas. Parking is at a premium for residents in central Ludlow but one of the limitations of this scheme is that it does not consider the needs of town centre businesses. The new scheme, which also is also likely to restrict permits to one per household, is expected to be implemented by the end of 2018.
Speaking on BBC Radio Shropshire this morning Shropshire Council’s leader partially backtracked on threats to remove discretionary business rate relief from charities contained in a recent letter. But he still wants to charge some charities. He said current media and councillor coverage of this is “scaremongering”. And, in one of the doublethink moments that some politicians excel in, he said that Shropshire Council had a “no blame” culture but “words would be had” with the officer who had sent the offending letter. So that’s no blame for anyone then.
We have more from the Directorate of Very Bad News at Shropshire Council. The council is planning to cancel all discretionary business rate relief for charities, sports clubs, youth clubs and a lot of other social enterprises across the county. In Ludlow, and voluntary and social enterprises could face an annual bill of more than £20,000 from next April.
This is nothing other than a tax on our volunteer community. It is a disgusting raid on the funding of good causes.