Month: May 2021

New council leader Lezley Picton announces a pothole cabinet but will it get to grips with the climate emergency?

The Conservatives retained their majority on Shropshire Council in the 6 May elections despite loses of seats and its leader. On Thursday, the council appointed Lezley Picton, previously cabinet member for culture and waste. She will be the first female leader of Shropshire Council. There is some evidence that we have moved on from the Shrewsbury-centric obsessions of former leader Peter Nutting. But in her first day in the job, Lezley Picton outlined business as usual. Although she a promising a “pause and reflect”, the council’s most controversial policies – spending millions more on the shopping centres, demolishing Shirehall, building the North West Relief Road and the pushing through new local plan – she is not proposing to scrap the plans. The appointment of Cecilia Motely to head up transport, tourism and communities may bring a more rural perspective. And for the first time the cabinet has a member dedicated to the climate emergency and green economy.

Shropshire Council members get a pay increase and agree to automatic future increases

It is difficult for councillors to set their own allowances. It always generates controversy. Yesterday, councillors agreed the recommendations of an independent review to increase the backbencher allowance by 4% to £12,000 (which does not restore a previous cut of 6%). More importantly, it agreed to my proposal to raise allowances in line with the annual increase in council staff wages. We need never discuss backbench allowances again. We will need to debate adjustments on how much cabinet members and committee chairs receive. These roles change when the way the council works changes. Many councillors work their socks off, not for their allowance, but with the help of their allowance. Some I am sure don’t need the money but we can’t means test allowances.

Ludlow and Clee councillors call for rethink on Ludlow May Fair cancellation

Shropshire councillors Viv Parry, Tracey Huffer, Richard Huffer and Andy Boddington are calling for Ludlow Town Council to rethink its decision on Friday (13 May) to rule out Ludlow’s May Fair going ahead this spring. The May Fair is part of our town’s DNA. It attracts a wide range of people from Ludlow and its hinterland. Especially those who don’t find the Green Festival, Food Festival and the Fringe Festival their scene. Especially young people who we tend to forget have also suffered during lockdown. We believe greater effort should have been made, and can still be made, to run the May Fair this year. It may need a different location for one year only. We have no objection to that although it was ruled out at Ludlow Town Council’s last meeting.

It was a bloke’s world in the Super Thursday elections here in Shropshire – why do so few women stand for public office?

With thanks to the Fawcett Society and the Democracy Club, we can analyse the gender of the more than 21,000 candidates that stood in elections on 6 May. Just one third were women (33%). Of the major parties, the Greens had the highest proportion of women at 43%, followed by Labour (41%), the Lib Dems (31%) and the Conservatives (27%). I was one of 232 candidates standing for Shropshire Council on 6 May. It was depressingly like the national picture. Only 28.4% of candidates were women: Green 48.8%; Labour 31%; Lib Dems 29.8%; Conservatives 18.8%; and Independents just 14.3%. The newly elected council is now just 24.3% female. Why? I think if we really understood why, we would have as many women pitching for election as men.

Local Elections 2021 – The results for Ludlow and Clee and Ludlow Town Council

I am a bit late on this post due to other commitments. But you will probably have heard by now that all four of us, Viv Parry, Tracey Huffer, Richard Huffer and myself have retained our seats on Shropshire Council. Looking at the countywide picture, we look like an oasis of calmness as the Conservatives take a battering across the county and the Greens storm Oswestry. There was a big turnout for the one contested seat for Ludlow Town Council. A new face won more than 50% of the votes. It is pretty much all change at Shrewsbury and Oswestry town councils from today. But in Ludlow, we drift on without the renewal which is essential to the health of local democracy. We need contested elections to test the strength of the existing councillor body. Otherwise, we get councillors we did not and could not vote for and then complain!

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