Archive for April, 2016
After the severe flash flooding in the Cornish town of Boscastle in 2004, the Environment Agency was tasked with looking at other catchments around the country that would behave in a similar manner should conditions prevail. A number of other catchments have been identified and the Shylte Brook, running through Much Wenlock, is one of them. Further details are here and and there’s also a useful map showing the course of the Shylte and Sytche brooks, before they flow into the Farley brook and down the valley towards the River Severn.
I’m pleased that Shropshire Council has now painted double white lines preventing dangerous overtaking in the hidden dip at Bourton Westwood on the B4378. I’m less pleased that it has taken such a long time for the agreed 40mph speed limit on the B4378 through Shipton to be implemented, I now understand that it is likely to be at the end of May.
Meanwhile in Much Wenlock, the consultation about the reactive HGV traffic lights scheme on the A4169 Sheinton Street received support from the overwhelming majority of people who commented. This is scheduled to be implemented in the summer during the school holiday.
Consultation is imminent about increasing parking restrictions in High Street, Barrow Street, Wilmore Street and Sheinton Street which are aimed at freeing up the centre of town so that vehicles don’t have to mount the footway. This is a danger to pedestrians, to property – at least three recent serious incidents spring to mind, and to the footway itself, which was never designed to bear the weight of cars and lorries. The proposals also provide a dedicated bay for loading and one for Blue Badge holders. Look out for further information in the library, at the Town Council and on Shropshire Council’s website. I will deliver a letter to properties and businesses directly affected in these streets when the consultation period starts.
Also out for consultation with the above parking restrictions, are proposals for double yellow lines at the junction of Queen Street and King Street. This is to prevent vehicles parking near the bus stop, which helps the drivers turn buses round without delay.
The number of large vehicles on our narrow streets, in contravention of weight limits, remains a concern. Wherever there is sufficient evidence to determine that they are not making local deliveries, Shropshire Council writes to the owners providing, where available, photographic evidence. I am quite prepared to continue this practise until we have width restrictions at the top of the High Street and at the end of Sheinton Street by the railway embankment to deter large vehicles.
It seems that the cause of this increasing menace is probably indiscriminate use of satnav systems. There was a debate* in the House of Commons in March about GPS and heavy goods vehicles and I have written to our MP, Philip Dunne, about Much Wenlock’s experience of this problem.
* Debate in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 22nd March 2016.
I hate this title, but it means services currently being delivered by the principal authority, Shropshire Council, instead being delivered locally – either by the town or parish council or local groups and companies. This is as a direct result of the difficult financial position that afflicts Shropshire Council – and the public sector generally.
A dialogue between Shropshire Council and Much Wenlock Town Council has opened regarding how best to maintain and deliver local services including the library, the museum, public open space, car parking and street lighting. Recently, however, Shropshire Council has clarified that any income from car parks could not be used to pay for services it had earmarked for budget savings. This effectively means that car parks and their perceived financial benefits are out of the equation – which will make agreement on other services more difficult. It also means that moving to local flexibility on car park charges – so important in Much Wenlock – is unlikely to be forthcoming.
Given that Shropshire Council is the tenant of parts of two burdensome properties owned by the Town Council, and that the unexpired leases (of the museum and the library) are lengthy, the next few months’ discussions are not going to be easy. Whilst recognising that Shropshire Council has made great efforts to manage its services within a much smaller budget, which has involved significant redundancy programmes and pay cuts, I shall be fighting to retain these valued services in Much Wenlock. They are used not only by Much Wenlock council taxpayers, but by many other people who live in the surrounding parishes that are not encumbered by having to maintain important listed buildings such as the Corn Exchange and the Guildhall. Local councils have largely been unaffected by austerity measures, thus far, so some challenging decisions will have to be made by town and parish councillors.
Despite lots of inflammatory press coverage, I should emphasise that no museums or libraries in Shropshire have been closed in recent years. A number of innovative solutions have ensured that they have stayed open and thrived for the benefit of local people and visitors.
Whatever the outcome of the coming weeks’ discussions, there will be consultation on the resultant options. I assure you that I will have the interests of Much Wenlock residents uppermost in mind in my endeavours to influence an equitable outcome.