The clock is ticking. Parish and town councils across Shropshire have been told by Shropshire Council that if they want museums, libraries, buses and street cleaning, they’ll have to take it on themselves. And local councils have just five months to do agree do that, otherwise Shropshire Council will consider scrapping the service from April 2017. For Ludlow Town Council, this could mean picking up a tab of more than £700,000 – the biggest bill in the county outside of Shrewsbury. Even more than Oswestry. Council leader, Malcolm Pate suggests in today’s Star that local councils could hike their precepts to pay for services previously run by Shirehall. This is disingenuous. The government has put on record that it will not allow large local tax rises without a costly referendum. The recent court case over Church Stretton library – which Shropshire Council did not defend – suggests the council doesn’t yet understand how to engage with many communities. I’m not allowed to talk about that after an edict from senior officers gagging all councillors.