Month: March 2019

Shropshire Council’s almost exclusively male cabinet needs an equalities champion to close the council’s gender pay gap

Council leader Peter Nutting reshuffled his cabinet last week. There is only one woman among 16 portfolio holders and deputy portfolio holders. It is hardly a surprise then that data published by the government last week show that Shropshire has one of the biggest gender pay gaps of any council. Women earn 18% less than men in the council. Only 11 of 287 English councils have bigger gender pay gaps than Shropshire Council according to the Government. A local council champion was appointed in the cabinet reshuffle. The male dominated cabinet now needs an equalities champion to drive a reduction in the gender pay gap across the council.

Ludlow town bus service to be cut back as Shropshire Council abandons sustainable transport

On Tuesday, Shropshire Council announced a consultation on huge cuts in bus services. For Ludlow, the headline is that the 701 town bus serving the east side of town will be cut back from a half hour service to a 45-minute service. There are no plans for changes to the 722 park and ride service. No cuts are planned to the out of town routes from Ludlow to Kidderminster (292) and to Knighton (740). The Minsterley 435 service to Shrewsbury and the Lugg 490 to Leominster and Hereford do not receive direct subsidy from Shropshire Council so are unaffected by these proposals. The bottom line is that the council wants to cut more than £400,000 from its bus budget. There has been no assessment of the impact of these cuts on how people get to medical services, shops, friends and work. This consultation shows that Shropshire Council has abandoned any ambitions for sustainable transport.

Parliament to debate banning netting of hedgerows after petition hits 100K signatures

All eyes have been on the Revoke Article 50 petition, which will comfortably pass 5 million signatures. Another petition I have been supporting aims to ban developers from netting hedges. The aim of developers is to ‘prevent’ birds nesting before hedges are cleared by bulldozers and trees felled with chainsaws. Netting is an ugly practice. It not only looks ugly but it traps all manner of wildlife. At just after 10.00am on 24 March, the petition passed 100,000 signatures. That means it will be considered for a debate in parliament. We must all lobby our MPs to ensure that debate happens.

I have been to some odd meetings in my time but this was one of the oddest. Last night, unitary, town and parish councillors met with a phalanx of Shropshire Council officers to debate infrastructure priorities for the Ludlow area. But the meeting proved to be more like a crowdfunded proofreading than a structured discussion about the future of this area of the county. Discussion of the most controversial infrastructure proposals, combining both GP surgeries and community health services on a single site, was blocked by the chair.

We live in an growing biodiversity desert – Rocks Green developers are making it worse with hedge netting that traps birds (updated)

Over the last couple of weeks, green netting has been put over hedgerows at Rocks Green. The aim is to prevent birds nesting. It will not work. Hedge nesting birds will get through the gaps in the netting with ease. When I visited yesterday morning, I could hear birds within the netted hedgerow. I could not see any nests but I would be surprised if there were none. This is in breach of planning documents submitted by the developer that says hedges will not be removed during the nesting season. But that is exactly what they are planning.   We live in a town that is biodiversity poor. Many of the fields around Ludlow resemble east of England prairies. We have some biodiversity havens around Ludlow. The Teme SSSI. There are biodiverse rich broadleaf areas across the Mortimer Forest including the Whitcliffe. That’s despite the intensive conifer plantations in the main forest area. But south of Ludford village, the landscape resembles an East England prairie. It’s not better across much of the Plymouth Estate from Dinham Bridge to Bromfield. East of the A49 bypass, Ludford is biodiversity poor. That’s why we must make every stride we can to protect birds…

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