I was tied up with meetings and business yesterday and only spotted Shropshire Council’s April Fools Day joke late in the day. The council celebrated its tenth birthday and no doubt there was much back slapping. The press release says everything about Shropshire Council. It pleads that it has had a few difficult years. Those difficult years were created by the Conservative leadership which became obsessed with stripping everything out of the council and either transferring functions to its company, ip&e or closing them down altogether. The council company of course failed. The council has improved and in its press release yesterday it boasted a suite of achievements, all of them in Shrewsbury.
Council leader Peter Nutting reshuffled his cabinet last week. There is only one woman among 16 portfolio holders and deputy portfolio holders. It is hardly a surprise then that data published by the government last week show that Shropshire has one of the biggest gender pay gaps of any council. Women earn 18% less than men in the council. Only 11 of 287 English councils have bigger gender pay gaps than Shropshire Council according to the Government.
A local council champion was appointed in the cabinet reshuffle. The male dominated cabinet now needs an equalities champion to drive a reduction in the gender pay gap across the council.
On Tuesday, Shropshire Council announced a consultation on huge cuts in bus services. For Ludlow, the headline is that the 701 town bus serving the east side of town will be cut back from a half hour service to a 45-minute service. There are no plans for changes to the 722 park and ride service. No cuts are planned to the out of town routes from Ludlow to Kidderminster (292) and to Knighton (740). The Minsterley 435 service to Shrewsbury and the Lugg 490 to Leominster and Hereford do not receive direct subsidy from Shropshire Council so are unaffected by these proposals.
The bottom line is that the council wants to cut more than £400,000 from its bus budget. There has been no assessment of the impact of these cuts on how people get to medical services, shops, friends and work. This consultation shows that Shropshire Council has abandoned any ambitions for sustainable transport.
Most of us use them at one point or another. They are a familiar sight in car parks across Shropshire. They are not particularly pretty. But they are useful and they help boost recycling. They are the 120 recycling bring banks around the county. We have five in Ludlow. But not for much longer.
With its thirst for saving money and disinterest in recycling, the council is planning to take away all the bring banks to save £237,000 a year. The cabinet meets to discuss the withdrawal next Wednesday. I’ll bet my last empty recyclable baked bean can on the proposal being approved.
The move will lead to a reduction in recycling and an increase in fly-tipping.
I have had several reports about the growing pile of pigeon poo outside the front door of Ludlow Library. The library is owned by Shropshire Council but the council seems incapable of resolving the problem, even though the mess has been developing for weeks and council staff pass it six days a week. As do hundreds of residents and children. The council’s environmental protection team say they can’t help with clearing up this health risk. The council will need to bring in a contractor. The simple short-term solution of a mop and bucket doesn’t seem to be available.