Year: 2017

“Do not approve” – Shropshire Council highways consultants join those opposing Rocks Green housing plans

“Recommendation – do not approve.” That’s the view of the highways consultants retained by Shropshire Council to examine the traffic impacts of plans for 200 homes south of Rocks Green. They join conservationists, ecologists and Highways England have also objected to the current scheme for the site. There is little doubt that homes will be built on this site at some point. At the moment though, it is looking like the submitted plans might not get approval. The developers might have to radically revise them or withdraw the application and submit a new set of plans.

The pavements in Ludlow have been lethal. Is it time to set up a snow warden scheme?

The pavements in Ludlow, and across much of the county, have been lethal in the last few days. The snow partially melted on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It then refroze. Pedestrians were at great risk. Several slipped over and I was among them. There will be a review of gritting priorities in Ludlow early in the New Year. But this will not change the reality that Shropshire Council doesn’t have enough resources to clear every road and path in this huge county. We need to think about we work together as a community to get the paths clear. I think it is time to look at a neighbourhood snow warden scheme. Many councils have schemes in place, including neighbouring Telford and Wrekin.

Yesterday, Shropshire Council agreed in private session to buy the Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside shopping centres. BBC Radio Shropshire is suggesting that the purchase price is £60 million. The day before, the cabinet agreed to spend £300,000 on consultancy fees to examine refurbishing Shirehall at the cost of more than £18 million. If the government approves the North West Relief Road around Shrewsbury, the council will chip in £21 million and pay for any overspend. In the same breath, it is aiming to raise £1.2 million a year by imposing contributions to council tax on some of the poorest in our county. This cruel imbalance in spending and taxation partly arises from political ambitions and dogma. It also arises from spending cuts and the obscurity of local government accounting rules that prevent us spending capital receipts on services.

That’s what Shropshire Council is planning to do. Unable to balance its budget, and that is the fault of the government as well as this Conservative led council, it plans to tax some of the poorest people in our county. Yesterday, 14 December, the council voted in favour of making some of the poorest and most vulnerable in Shropshire pay 20% of their council tax bill. One member argued: “It is only fair that everyone shares the burden.” I disagreed saying: “It is not fair that the poor share the burden.” Surely our job as a council is to protect vulnerable people, not tax them?

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