Year: 2013

Shropshire Council went ahead and cancelled the rural Link service today. The buses are still running, but only for schools. Disabled and elderly people will need to use dial-a-ride community transport, which will run shorter distances, less frequently.  Hereabouts, that’s the Ludlow Traveller service. There was never any need to scrap Link. It was costly but it did not need to be so. Bizarrely buses were based in Shrewsbury, even if they only ever ran 30 miles away in the south of the county. Passenger numbers grew substantially from Link’s launch in December 2008 to a peak of around 3,000 passengers a month in mid-2012.  From end of 2012, they have declined, though now seem to seem to be fairly static at around 2,500 a month. This compares to an average of 1,005 passengers a month on the previous fixed rural services. Nearly 3,000 school students use the service each month. Though service use grew overall until the end of 2012, the different zones fared differently. Details are given in the graphs below (click on a graph for a bigger image). The puzzle is why numbers dropped after the end of 2012. Is it a coincidence that the drop begins…

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I rarely see 12 year olds drunk on the streets of Ludlow – but every now and again a group has a drinking session outside the Co-op. I see a lot more 14 year olds the worse for drink. And drunk 16 year olds are commonplace, hanging out in play areas, or sometimes just staggering through the town centre shouting or pausing to puke. Not all of this occurs late at night. Not all of it causes a problem for residents. But every bit of it is a pretty big problem for the kids themselves. I’m not puritanical about alcohol. But we do seem to seem to have a small number of teen, even pre-teen drunks here in Ludlow. How do we help them? Shropshire Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) is conducting a survey of residents’ views on young people (under 18 years old) drinking in public areas. Please help by completing the survey. It only takes ten minutes: Community Alcohol Partnership Resident Survey

As bus services in the Ludlow area go from bad to worse, one ray of light is the arrival of the Ludlow Traveller bus service from Monday, 8 October. The service will use a 14-seater minibus and a wheelchair-accessible people carrier to take people who currently find it difficult to access existing public transport from their door to their destination to go shopping, meet friends, make medical appointments or go on group outings. The minibus will run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the adapted people carrier seven days of the week. If you want to use the new service, you need to register on 01584 700907. The Ludlow Traveller is short of volunteers drivers. Could you help? Full details are here. Once there are enough volunteers, Shropshire Council plans to publish timetables and routes.

We are quite well served for broadband here in Ludlow, but once you step out of town the service rapidly becomes poor to non-existent. Shropshire Council is working with BT to rolling out faster broadband across much of the county. The original deployment map is here, and in the image below I have coloured the areas that will get a poor service in red for clarity. It’s a lot of areas. The South-west Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Broadband is making the case that there is too much emphasis on super-fast speeds in urban centres at the expense of getting decent speeds in the most rural areas. The red areas are due to get just 2mbs connections on current plans. That might have been a good service five years ago, but it is totally inadequate for modern business and social needs. Rural areas will also need to rely on broadband more as rural services decline. So please sign the Better Broadband petition. It closes on Tuesday 9 October and the more signatures the petition gets, the more impact the campaign will have.

I was astounded to hear Shropshire Council’s Cecelia Motley speak on BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday morning (begins at 2:36). Her message was spot on about the way that national funds are diverted to urban areas at the expense of rural districts. She has been a strong champion of the need for a better funding deal. But forgive me if I despair that that Shropshire’s three conservative MPs and its Conservative council cabinet have been talking about better funding for sparsely populated counties like Shropshire for years. A fair deal is not even in sight at the moment. It lies in only in those promissory notes of politics. Few people think this one will ever be cashed in. But that’s not the reason I’m angry with Cecelia. I’m infuriated because she failed to acknowledge that there is urban rural divide here in Shropshire too. Drop into Shrewsbury and you can ride on a Shropshire Council subsidised bus. In Ludlow, the clapped out service doesn’t get a penny of subsidy. None of the buses running today can accommodate disabled people. In Ludlow, all council operations are being scaled down. We are going to lose our local tip. Ludlow is a big town…

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