Month: July 2016

Axing two oak trees to improve views of Ludlow from Whitcliffe Common is the unacceptable face of environmentalism

Update: 1 August 2016 This morning, BBC Radio Shropshire broadcast two interviews on the controversy. In the first, Tracey Huffer and I are interviewed by Genevieve Tudor. Listen here. In the second, Daphne Jones presents the case for the Friends of Whitcliffe Common. Listen here. There has been a lively discussion on whether the trees should be felled or not on the BBC Radio Shropshire Facebook page. Main article: 28 July 2016 There is a row going on between those who favour felling healthy oak trees on Whitcliffe Common and others, including myself, who find the idea of taking a chainsaw to trees just to improve the view abhorrent. Last night, Ludlow Town Council voted to object to the proposals to fell two oak trees on Whitcliffe Common. That was the right decision and one I fully support. These trees should be preserved. The managers of the common want the trees cut down and coppiced to improve views towards the historic town. I don’t think this is sufficient justification. Axing good quality oak trees is the unacceptable face of environmentalism.

Plans for 20 retirement homes at Elm Lodge in Ludlow rejected for the third time

In November 2014, an application was made for 20 retirement homes at Elm Lodge, on the goods yard beside the mini golf course. The application was rejected. The developer resubmitted the plans and the were rejected again. And now a planning inspector has finally thrown out the scheme (16/02414/REF). I have largely kept out of this one, as I know the applicant well. I would not have been allowed to speak on the application at planning committee but it never got that far. The scheme was rejected by council planning officers because it was too far from services in the town and outside the town development boundary defined in the local plan, SAMDev. I had asked for the decision to be made by the South Planning Committee but my request was rejected because there were straightforward grounds for refusal by officers. The inspector upheld the planning officers’ decision.

Shrewsbury Ark goes outreach to tackle rough sleeping but let’s not forget the hidden homeless

On a recent night, I was contacted on Facebook about a 16-year old sleeping rough on the streets of Shrewsbury. This young woman was vulnerable and needed safeguarding. I advised my Facebook contact to take the youngster to Shrewsbury Ark, a drop in centre for the homeless and vulnerable. Once there, she was re-engaged with the support network from Shropshire Council that had been trying to help her. She is now in a hostel and I hope that she gets the help she needs. This youngster had dropped through the system. It is very hard to engage with council officials and family, and even with friends, when your life has plummeted into the crisis that is homeless. That’s why the help given by the Shrewsbury Ark is so important. Now, the Shrewsbury Ark is going to do a lot more to help rough sleepers.

Shropshire Council rejects plea to explore views on a council tax referendum

At the Shropshire Council meeting yesterday, councillors debated a motion that would have required Shropshire Council’s officers to research the willingness of people in Shropshire for a referendum on a council tax rise above 1.99%. The motion was put forward by myself and seconded by follow Lib Dem Hannah Fraser, who represents Abbey ward in Shrewsbury. The motion arose from calls from town and parish councils for Shropshire Council to raise council tax to avoid huge rises in parish precepts. Ludlow Town Council’s mayor has been vocal in calling for a rise in council tax to prevent the burden for services that serve a wide area falling on Ludlow ratepayers alone. Regrettably, the motion was all but lost.

Ludlow Library opening hours cuts are wrong – it should remain open on Saturday afternoons

Shropshire Council has published the results of its Library opening hours review. The library will close on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons, but get an extra hour on Monday evenings. I am very disappointed that the cuts to opening hours at Ludlow Library have been largely confirmed. I am quite angry that the library will be closed on Saturday afternoons. This is a busy time for the library. There a lot of people who use its facilities then who have been out at work all week.

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