I now have a formal complaint against me from Shropshire Council’s in house solicitor. This is because I wanted to tell people that the price of an extra £1.3m for Ludlow Assembly Rooms would be a repayment of some or all the money, and a curtailing of the community asset transfer (CAT) from 125 years to three years.
I have already told the council solicitor I will take any punishment going. If need be, I will resign as a councillor and stand for re-election. That would be nonsense and a waste of public money. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. I am utterly committed to Ludlow. I live and breathe this town as do my fellow councillors and most people reading this blog. But Shropshire Council doesn’t want you to know what is happening.
It is ridiculous to think that our community has £1.3m in its back pocket to repay the overrun costs for Ludlow Assembly Rooms. It is nonsense to think that we can plan for our most important community asset if the community asset transfer is cut to three years. But the very hard headed business model being driven forward by the new directors at Shropshire Council dictates this. The council says it needs to “make money from its assets. Its assets? No. They are our community’s assets. Not Shropshire Councils. Our money. Not theirs.
We don’t have £1.3m in Ludlow. In any event no volunteer or fund raiser is going to be given a penny if they are trying to raise money for Shropshire Council.
The council is the landlord of LAR. The repairing side of the lease has always laid with the council. It has been negligent landlord. It has not done essential work needed over the last decade. The refurbishment bill is well over estimates. That is not the fault of LAR or Ludlow. It is Shropshire Council’s fault for not behaving as a responsible landlord.
By reducing the CAT to three years, it means we can’t dream and plan for the long term future of LAR. We all dream for a long and successful future for Ludlow Assembly Rooms. LAR is at the heart of our town. It is no more than a line on a budget spreadsheet in Shropshire Council.
The team at LAR are brilliant. We all support them. But Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, is more concerned with scoring political points than supporting Ludlow. There is an election coming up for unitary councillors in 2021. Nutting will have his eye on that. Nutting is a leader that supports Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury. And Shrewsbury. There would be nothing wrong with that if he was just a town councillor. But he has never been a leader for rural Shropshire.
I accept that there will be some measure of disciplinary action against me by Shropshire Council which does not believe in the standards of openness and transparency that I aspire to. I will take what comes.
Shropshire Council has no money whatsoever. The half a billion pounds plus in its budget is our money, paid through council tax, business rates and general taxation. I reserve the right to tell people how our money is spent. But right now, I feel like someone in those Second World War movies being ordered into the “cooler”.
Here is the complaint against me in full. I will probably get another standards complaint for publishing it. So be it. I have always acted in the interests of Ludlow. I love what I do. When people don’t want me to do that, they can vote me out of office.
Meanwhile, Shropshire Council is aspiring to the democratic standards of Russia and China. I will not be silent. If it needs to be said, it needs to be said. While I remain an elected councillor, I will always say what needs to be said.