Shropshire Council deputy leader resigned after online abuse

Social media is the expression of all of us. Collectively and individually. Even if people don’t participate its impacts cannot be ignored.   Social media is all of us on the internet, on phones, laptops, smart speakers and an ever growing number of devices. It is almost as everyday as conversation. Except social media is not like conversation. Any abuse in conversation is usually sporadic. On social media it can be relentless. This commentary comes from someone who has engaged with online communication since the late 1980s. I get abuse as a councillor but not as much as some others. Steve Charmley, the deputy leader of Shropshire Council has just resigned citing online abuse. The question for those in public life is how we cope with the flack and the abuse. And can we limit it?

Ironbridge: Crucial Much Wenlock traffic report withheld – it stinks

The biggest planning decision in Shropshire Council’s history is edging towards becoming a scandal. I would not be surprised if it ended up in court. One of the reasons councillors originally rejected the application for 1,075 homes was because of the increased traffic pressure on local roads, especially the Gaskell Arms Junction in Much Wenlock. Now we learn that a crucial report on traffic impact on the Gaskell Arms Junction was not made available by Shropshire Council to committee members and the public before the meeting, even though it was commissioned to inform the planning committee. It is unacceptable that a report produced to inform councillors was published two days after they made their decision on Monday. This stinks of bad practice and poor planning management.

Shropshire Council reshuffles its cabinet after Charmley steps down

Steve Charmley (Whittington) stepped down from Shropshire Council’s cabinet today. He had been in the cabinet since the unitary council was founded and deputy leader for six years. Steve has withdrawn for health reasons but will remain councillor for Whittington. We wish him well. He has also told BBC Radio Shropshire that the pressure on social media was becoming intolerable. Ed Potter (Loton) replaces Charmley, taking with him his portfolio for economic growth, regeneration and planning. Dean Carrol (Battlefield) picks up Charmley’s infrastructure portfolio, that’s mostly roads. He will be challenged on sustainable transport and active travel which have fared badly in council meetings this week. Simon Jones (Shawbury) gets the portfolio for Adult Social Care and Public Health.

Councillors challenge planning committee vote on Ironbridge

Four councillors are objecting to the vote that approved the huge development of 1,075 homes on the former power station site at Ironbridge. Councillors Andy Boddington, Tony Parson, Caroline Bagnall and Richard Huffer have written to Shropshire Council’s legal team saying that one councillor should not have been allowed to vote. Precedent and probity dictate that planning committee councillors cannot vote if they had not listened to the entirety of the presentation by officers, along with representations by objectors, supporters and the developer. Councillors on the committee must also be present during the subsequent debate leading up to the vote. One of the Southern Planning Committee councillors left the committee room during the Ironbridge debate for a short period. Despite this he was allowed to make a statement and vote without having heard the full arguments. We believe the vote was invalid and should be retaken to ensure that it meets the standards and probity that is required for determination planning applications.

Ironbridge housing – because of an email a planning battle was lost

This afternoon, the Southern Planning Committee approved the controversial application for more than 1,000 homes at the former Buildwas power station having rejected the scheme at its meeting on 10 August. There was an improved offer on the table, not improved enough in my view, but the committee voted by six votes to four to approve outline planning permission for the scheme. But if it was not for an untoward email, the rejection of the scheme would have stood and an appeal by developer Haworth would be underway. Those who oppose the development, in principle or detail, will rue the day that email was sent. Because of an email, a planning battle was lost. I do not oppose the Ironbridge development. I just want to get the right scheme.

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