An oddball 2019 for Shropshire Council (1) – call for vegan adverts to be banned from Shropshire buses threatens freedom of speech

This is the first of two articles about the way that Shropshire Council has begun the New Year in a remarkably oddball way.

Steve Charmley, deputy leader of the council has got a bee in his bonnet about vegan adverts on Arriva buses. He wants them banned because Shropshire is “a great County built on Agriculture!” I would have hoped we are first and foremost a great county based on human rights and freedom of speech. Councillor Charmley is calling for a meeting with Arriva buses, a company the council subsidises to the tune of £2 million a year. That meeting would be wrong just at the point the council is planning to cut £405,000 from its £2.5 million bus budget.

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Shropshire Council gets its five a day from Ludlow alone – even more from Bridgnorth

We are not talking apples and pears but parking fines. We are often grumping about penalty charge notices (PCNs) in Ludlow. At times, there is a feeling that we are targeted. Is that the case? I thought I’d take a look on how many fines are handed out across the county. In 2017/18, Shropshire Council’s civil enforcement officers handed out nearly 14,000 PCNs. Half of them were, unsurprisingly, slapped on windscreens in Shrewsbury. Bridgnorth came next, followed by Ludlow. Trailing by some way is Oswestry.

Nearly 40 tickets a day were issued across the unitary area, five of them in Ludlow. They raised an income of around £440,000, rather less than the £590,000 cost of running the civil enforcement service.

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Shropshire Council to is planning to halve its face to face customer services in Ludlow

We’re told we live in an internet age. The need to meet people face to face to get advice and solve problems is not as important as it once was. The growing views is that everything can be done by telephone or online. That means that in an age when money is tight, councils can rely on call centres and computers to steer people though the sometimes labyrinthym procedures for benefits, permits and payments.

That’s the thinking behind Shropshire Council’s plan to reduce the opening hours of its drop-in service in Ludlow Library from four days to two days a week. If the plans go through, the Ludlow customer service point, as the service is known, will only open between 9.30am and 5.00pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.

This is yet another cut as Shropshire Council runs out of cash for many services.

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Going to the bottle bank this Christmas? It could be your last chance before they are closed

Shropshire Council wants to close all its recycling bring banks across the county, including the six in Ludlow. The council says that usage has fallen and that people can use kerbside recycling. Usage has fallen but only by 17% over five years. Each bring bank collects more than 22 tonnes of recyclables every year. That’s around 6% of household dry recyclables collected by Veolia.

The council complains about contamination of recyclables and fly-tipping at bring banks but says it has no information on how often this happens.

People use bring banks for a reason. Those that live in apartments often don’t have anywhere to store the recyclables. Other households don’t have enough space to store the aftermath of a jolly good party. Some people will be going on holiday and want to ensure everything is in the system first.

The real reason that Shropshire Council wants to scrap bring banks is to save £230,000 a year.

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How will the new local plan affect Ludlow? Come to a Shropshire Council meeting on 14 January to find out

We are midway through updating planning policy in Ludlow and Shropshire. The current stage of the local plan review is looking at where houses and employment areas might be built. The council’s site allocation consultation runs until 31 January.

A meeting will be held to discuss the council’s proposals on 14 January at 6pm in Elim Church Hall, Ludlow.

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