Shropshire Council agrees to buy a shopping centre, build a road, refurbish its offices but not build council housing

Yesterday, Shropshire Council agreed in private session to buy the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside shopping centres. BBC Radio Shropshire is suggesting that the purchase price is £60 million. The day before, the cabinet agreed to spend £300,000 on consultancy fees to examine refurbishing Shirehall at the cost of more than £18 million. If the government approves the North West Relief Road around Shrewsbury, the council will chip in £21 million and pay for any overspend. In the same breath, it is aiming to raise £1.2 million a year by imposing contributions to council tax on some of the poorest in our county.

This cruel imbalance in spending and taxation partly arises from political ambitions and dogma. It also arises from spending cuts and the obscurity of local government accounting rules that prevent us spending capital receipts on services.

Continue reading “Shropshire Council agrees to buy a shopping centre, build a road, refurbish its offices but not build council housing”

How to be cruel in one effective blow – fining the poor for being poor is Shropshire Council’s latest proposal (updated)

That’s what Shropshire Council is planning to do. Unable to balance its budget, and that is the fault of the government as well as this Conservative led council, it plans to tax some of the poorest people in our county. Yesterday, 14 December, the council votes in favour of making some of the poorest and most vulnerable in Shropshire pay 20% of their council tax bill. One member argued: “It is only fair that everyone shares the burden.” I disagreed saying: “It is not fair that the poor share the burden.”

Surely our job as a council is to protect vulnerable people, not tax them?

Continue reading “How to be cruel in one effective blow – fining the poor for being poor is Shropshire Council’s latest proposal (updated)”

Question, questions, questions at Shropshire Council on Thursday but fewer in future

One of the main ways councillors and the public can find out what is happening in Shropshire Council, and make political points, is to ask questions or deliver petitions. There are several interesting questions at next Thursday’s Council meeting, including on affordable housing, recycling and business rates. The council will also consider plans to limit public questions at future meetings.

Continue reading “Question, questions, questions at Shropshire Council on Thursday but fewer in future”

Should we run a county lottery to replace community funds that Shropshire Council won’t now provide?

Public funding for the community sector is sinking fast. Our youth budget is miniscule. Discretionary grants are evaporating. Faced with similar gaps in funding, some councils have launched local lotteries giving up to 60% of the ticket price to local good causes chosen by residents. It is time that we considered running a lottery for Shropshire. At next Thursday’s Shropshire Council meeting, I will be asking council officers to investigate the case for a countywide community lottery.
Continue reading “Should we run a county lottery to replace community funds that Shropshire Council won’t now provide?”

What is the future for our county? The big plan debate. Ludlow, 30 November 2017

The Ludlow and Clee Local Joint Committee (LJC) is to hold a special meeting on 30 November to discuss Shropshire Council’s draft local plan. This sets out ambitious policies to expand housing and employment across the county.

Ludlow councillor Andy Boddington is chairman of the LJC, says:

“This opportunity to debate our ideas about the future of the county. Shropshire Council’s new plans aim for economic growth and building nearly 1,500 homes a year across the county. Much of this will be in the north and east of the county but we also need to work out what is best for the more rural areas, including Ludlow.”

Continue reading “What is the future for our county? The big plan debate. Ludlow, 30 November 2017”