I’m sad to see that the Ludlow Arts Festival won’t be running in 2015, even though I found the 2014 ticket prices too expensive for my limited budget. The Fringe is set to keep running and I am sure will go from strength to strength. We also have a huge number of community events, including the firework display on Gallows Bank tomorrow at 7pm. There have been fireworks of a different sort on New Street.
My lead story in this newsletter is what young people think about politics. This weekend Russell Brand has made headlines in many newspapers with his firebrand destructive disengagement with politics and his egocentric claims he represents the dystopian future that we all apparently long for. Writing a guest blog, Laura Sheldon gives us a different perspective of young politics here in Ludlow and across Shropshire.
Youth Parliament to set priorities
Ludlow teenager Laura Sheldon is going to the House of Commons in November to represent Shropshire and Ludlow in a national debate on priorities for young people. Seven thousand young people around our county were consulted to find out what issues matter most to them.
In Ludlow, the top priorities are:
1) Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.65 per hour.
2) Exam resits in Maths and English should be reintroduced.
3) Young people should have at least a week’s work experience at a place of their choosing.
4) The curriculum should prepare young people for life, including finance, politics, and sex and relationship education.
5) Mental health services should be improved; young people should learn about mental health issues at school and negative stereotypes should be challenged.
This sounds a good set of priorities to me. You can read more about Laura’s work as a Member of the Youth Parliament in her guest post.
Fireworks this Monday at Gallows Bank
There will be a firework display on Gallows Bank on Monday at 7pm, 27 October. Please come early. If you can enter the field from Sidney Road or Charlton Rise, that will help ease pedestrian congestion on Dark Lane. The event is run by volunteers, including a lot of local young people. It’s free and sponsored by local organisations. We will be shaking buckets for donations towards next year’s display. After the fireworks, there will be hot dogs and hot drinks at the Rockspring Centre. More on this…
‘Fireworks’ in New Street
Events in New Street came to something of a denouement with the unexpected appearance of white lines, painted by a contractor without authorisation and removed at its own cost. Part of the community welcomed the move, others were furiously angry. This debacle has shown that some parts of Shropshire Council’s highway operations are not functioning well. It also demonstrates the need to take a completely different approach to community engagement. From early next year, possibly before, I’ll roll out a series of community meetings, inviting three or four streets at a time to discuss issues that matter most to them. I’ve written to New Street and Chapel Row residents explaining how we have ended up where we are, and asking whether they want a community meeting soon or whether we should wait a while.
Town walls – progress and the hornbeams stay
There has been some progress in negotiations on repairing the collapsed wall behind St Laurence’s. I can’t give details of confidential talks but I have more optimism we might make progress than I have had of late. We will also get the temporary builders’ bag buttress repaired in mid-November, along with some new coverings, removal of benches and strengthening of security fencing. There are no plans to remove the hornbeams as tree specialists say they are not likely to fall. That’s good news and let’s hope that there are no further problems with the wall that might threaten the trees’ stability. We hope to start archaeological surveys of the churchyard soon. I’ll keep you up-to-date as work progresses.
Discretionary Housing Payments
DHPs are additional payments for people currently receiving housing benefit who require further financial assistance with their housing costs. In 2013/14, Shropshire’s allocation was £277,475 from central government, a sum based on need. Of this, just £214,164 (77%) was spent. That meant that £63,311 was returned to the Department of Work and Pensions. Is it really the case that we don’t have people who need this money? In a county where use of food banks has been growing, perhaps the criteria were too tight and we are turning away needy people.
Decisions. Shropshire Council’s planning meetings these days are often arduous. In October the South Planning Committee ate for five hours. We rejected two solar farms at Acton Scott and Whitton, near Caynham on grounds of damage to the countryside and agricultural land. Two housing developments in Bishop’s Castle fared no better. A riding school for the disabled up a narrow lane outside Much Wenlock was put on hold while the road access is reviewed. More on this…
Doctors. Funding has been obtained to expand Portcullis GP surgery. I’m backing the plans and I am trying to get the plans approved quickly so the project does not lose its NHS England grant. More on this…
SAMDev inquiry. The plan for housing sites across the county is currently being examined by the planning inspectorate. The inspector, Claire Sherratt, has asked whether the 200 home development opposite Rocks Green is deliverable. She is questioning whether the cost of providing a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the A49 and a foot and cycle path to the Eco Park could make the development too expensive to build.
Burway. A planning application has been submitted to subdivide the garden of Burfield on Burway Lane, Ludlow and build a detached house (14/04422/FUL). More on this…
Library. There have been a lot of complaints about the location of the Shropshire Council service desks and the registrar’s office in the library. They do not provide adequate privacy. A review is underway. I have also asked that review to consider whether it is feasible to put solar panels on the library roof.
Vandalism. We had been hoping to catch the vandals who hauled up the bench outside the Library and broke a window by examining CCTV footage. Alas, it turns out the CCTV in Parkway wasn’t working! It’s now being fixed and the trial period for this camera and that looking towards the Bull has been extended by a further month.
Unemployment levels have more than halved in the last 18 months across the Ludlow constituency. That’s very good news. Youth unemployment is falling too. And we have much lower unemployment than many areas around us and the UK as a whole. What we need to concentrate on now is the quality of jobs. More on this…
Pets at Home. After Viv Parry intervened, the store has agreed to adjust its car park floodlighting and turn it off at 9pm each night.
Local Joint Committee. The LJC is a local forum run by Shropshire Council that allows you to air your views. The next meeting is on 13 November. Please let Richard Huffer know if you want to discuss anything in particular firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flooding. Grants of up to £5000 are available from Shropshire Council for measures such as airbrick covers, flood doors and barriers and non-return valves to reduce the chances of flooding to a property, or for measures to reduce clean up time and costs if flooding occurs.