Day: 27 January 2020

It seems barely a few moments ago since I published a statement from Shropshire Council that the long promised review of the impact of regime of parking charges introduced in November 2018 is to be delayed until March. That was based on an email from the Chief Monitoring Officer at 2:31pm. Alas, in the short time I was taking the dog and cat for a walk, all has changed. The Chief Monitoring Officer emailed at 3:35pm to say the review will take place as planned on Wednesday morning. There is no paperwork for this meeting. It will not be possible for unitary and town councillors to discuss what the council is planning beforehand, let alone the traders who are being penalised by the high street parking charges. Is Shropshire Council just trying to keep us guessing? Possibly. But I think it has just descended into chaos. It can no longer service its central democratic function. Democracy is essential for all public funding. The climate of discussion, debate and challenge is central to the way that local government runs. Papers now routinely arrive late for meetings. Too often councillors receive unrecorded verbal briefings. Democracy is difficult. Running local services in the…

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Shropshire Council defers review of punitive parking charges in Ludlow until 18 March

A recent survey by Ludlow Town Council reported that more than half of independent traders in the town have seen a drop in footfall and turnover since the new parking regime came in in 2018. The annual review of the new parking regime was due to be discussed at the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday morning. But no paperwork has been published. None of us in Ludlow know what changes Shropshire Council is planning to make to this punitive parking regime that is punishing town centre trade at a time when high streets all over the country are struggling. I don’t know whether it is good news today or not. But the review of the parking strategy due on Wednesday morning has been delayed until 18 March. Why the paperwork is not ready I do not know. This review was due last November but the general election got in the way.

This article was first published on Lib Dem Voice and got a mixed reception… Last week’s report from the National Audit Office contained no surprises. But it was still devasting for High Speed 2. The complexity of the project was underestimated. Costs are ballooning. Value for money is deflating. The political uncertainty surrounding the project, especially the northern sections, will load more costs. It is “impossible to estimate with certainty” how much HS2 will eventually cost, the auditors conclude. But it will be north of £100bn. That dwarfs into insignificance the cost of a third runway at Heathrow. The drain on public finances is not the main problem. HS2 is environmentally destructive. Far from being green, it will destroy centuries old biodiverse landscapes. It will take a century for the scheme to pay back the carbon and environmental costs of construction.

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