Month: January 2016

Come to discuss the cuts at the Bus Users Shropshire public meeting tomorrow. Ludlow Assembly Rooms, 1 February, 10.45am. “Bus routes may be at risk of being scaled back.” This line in Shropshire Council’s latest budget figures must have been written with the deepest sense of irony. The council is proposing a 91% cut in subsidies for public transport from £1.5 million to just £145,000 by April 2018. When payments for concessionary fares are taken into account, the cuts amount 23% across the board. At risk of being scaled back? Bus services can barely operate on current subsidies. They are likely to be decimated by these cuts. We are likely to see more towns and villages served only by infrequent community minibuses, not regular scheduled services.

At the end of last year, Shropshire Council proposed cutting the Ludlow Registrar service by eight hours a week. Bishop’s Castle would lose its service. Oswestry would get extra hours. Alternatively, these offices could close altogether.[1] Fortunately, the council has now come its senses on this very sensitive matter. Ludlow’s registrar office is to remain open for 16 hours a week, four fewer hours than now.[2] Given the scale of current cuts, I think we got a good deal for Ludlow (my objection to the original plans). But the process by which the decision was made shows just how far Shropshire Council has to travel before it becomes an open and effective democracy.

Shropshire Council is currently seeking a provider to support refugee families under the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme. Our county has only limited experience in taking in refugees. A working party of councillors and officers from the council, health, and police and fire services has been meeting to ensure that that we have the necessary support in place. I have been impressed by the methodical and careful way the working party has considered all the issues. Lessons have also been learnt from other councils. Accommodation is now being sought and ten families are expected to be resettled in the north of the county in coming weeks.

I am fond of early morning walks with Mel the Collie. But in recent days, I’ve noticed a lack of streetlights. Some lights are on all night. Others are part-night lights. These turn off at around midnight and resume their task of lighting our streets at around 5.30am. In the last few days, the part-night lighting hasn’t come on until around 6.00am. I suspect that the cause is the full moon that has been hanging high in the west sky in the early hours. For the last few days, this has been a magnificent sight and it seems to be bright enough to persuade our rather dumb streetlights to oversleeping. But a full or even a waning gibbous moon is not bright enough to light alleys and nooks and crannies of the Parys Road, Tollgate and Sheet Road area. We need streetlights on for those out walking or off to work.

I get a lot of people asking what’s happening with the proposal for an out of town store at Rocks Green. The proposal was first announced in the summer of 2014. The planning application was submitted the following January. But nothing seems to have happened of late. I am concerned that this application is beginning to cast a shadow over our town centre. I emailed council planners on 18 November 2015 to set out my concerns about the slow progress of the application. Here is the response I received yesterday, more than two months after my email.

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