Archive for October, 2016
A couple of years ago, BT carried out an exercise seeking to identify community views regarding little-used public telephones. BT is now undertaking a formal 90-day consultation process, commencing this month, in respect of a further list of 214 payphones in Shropshire.
There are only two on the list in my Much Wenlock division – in Homer and in Quarry Road, Broseley Wood. At the previous consultation it was evident that only six calls had been made from the Homer payphone in the previous twelve months. BT now say that, in the past twelve months, no calls* have been made from this payphone. This may be a reflection of the increasing use of mobile telephones.
I’d be very interested to learn your views on this if you’re a Homer resident or if, for instance, you walk in the area.
Meanwhile, in Quarry Road, Broseley Wood, the classic red phone box has had no calls made from it in the past twelve months. It seems likely that Broseley Town Council will ask for the box to be retained if the telephony equipment is removed. I’d like to know what your views are on this.
As we know, at present the quality of the mobile signal in Much Wenlock, Broseley and the surrounding area varies according to where you are and which network you use. I’m frequently attending meetings with network providers urging them to invest locally so that the signal improves but, until that time, folk on the move may have to reply on a payphone in an emergency. I look forward to hearing from you either by phone(!) – 01952 728802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In my original post, I misread the schedule and indicated that three calls had been made from the Homer payphone in the previous twelve months. In fact it was a big round zero!
Today four of us gathered to go litter picking along Bridgnorth Road and Farley Road which is usually where most of the litter is found. We also covered Barrow Street, Hunters Gate, Swan Meadow and Walton Hills where, unsurprisingly, there wasn’t much to collect. One of the enjoyable aspects of this walk around our streets is chatting to folk, who are appreciative of our efforts.
Nonetheless, as well as the usual bottles, cans and packets, we collected a couple of hub caps and a piece of red bodywork which looked as though it belonged to a tractor or similar. We left our collected rubbish in St Mary’s Lane car park where it will be picked up, as arranged, by Shropshire Council.
The lovely folk at Tea On The Square provided a complimentary cuppa to thank us for our efforts afterwards. If you’d like to join us in our next session it will be held on Friday 18th November. Just turn up in The Square at 10:00am.
From time to time, I’ll write a resumé of my week’s activities, mostly about my work at Shropshire Council and Much Wenlock Town Council, of which I’m a member. I’ve no intention of writing a piece every week (and probably not even every month), but it will give you a flavour of my typical week’s work.
- On Monday morning I drove to Shropshire Council’s offices at Stanley Lane, Bridgnorth for the South Planning Committee chair’s briefing. I’m vice-chair and have to attend for a number of reasons. Principally, if chairman Cllr David Evans finds himself unable to attend the planning meeting, I’m briefed and able to step into his shoes. Also, if there’s a matter being discussed for the area that a Planning Committee member represents, they take no part in the discussion and do not vote. If David was prevented from speaking, I would take the chair.
- The briefing was carried out by the Shropshire Council planning officers who would present the application to the meeting on the following day. Also squeezed into the small meeting room was the Council’s solicitor who would be providing legal advice to councillors, and the committee officer who would take the minutes of the meeting. There was a discussion about the key points in each planning application, and a briefing on which members of the public and which representatives of town and parish councils would be speaking. We also decided to ask the committee to vary the order of the agenda in order that the Ludlow supermarket application could be taken first. There was likely to be a lot of public interest and we generally try to ensure that folk don’t have to sit too long waiting for the item they want to hear.
- Once the briefing was complete, we met South Planning Committee members on the site of a planning application in Much Wenlock. This was for a proposed affordable dwelling development just off the A458 Bridgnorth Road and adjacent to Oakfield Park and the lane to Callaughton.The planning officer described the application, indicated where the site boundaries are and pointed out important aspects that had been raised in the period since the application was made. These included issues raised by neighbours and objectors, such as proximity of existing dwellings and drainage, access and traffic speed concerns. The site visit provides Planning Committee members with the opportunity to ask about physical features on site and to gain an understanding that will be helpful when considering the application at the formal Planning Committee meeting. Members of the public and local councils are able to attend site visits to hear what is said by the planning officer, but they are not permitted to engage in dialogue at this stage.
- On Monday afternoon I worked from home, answering emails, returning telephone messages from local residents and re-reading the papers for Tuesday’s South Planning Committee meeting – 150 pages this month. If there was anything I wanted to look at further, I looked it up on the Shropshire Council Planning portal. I also read the additional representations paper and reminded myself of a few policies in the Much Wenlock Neighbourhood Development Plan.
The number of seats in Parliament is to fall from 650 to 600. The number of constituencies in the West Midlands must reduce from 59 to 53. The Boundary Commission for England gives further details.
Our Ludlow constituency has around 68,000 electors at present and has to change. The Boundary Commission’s initial proposals are for a cross-county boundary constituency called Ludlow & Leominster, containing 15 wards from Herefordshire and 11 wards from Shropshire – excluding Much Wenlock. Importantly for us, the Much Wenlock division, also comprising Barrow, Broseley Wood, Easthope, Shipton and Stanton Long is proposed to form part of a new constituency called Bridgnorth, Wellington & The Wrekin. Broseley, Worfield, Alveley & Claverley and the Bridgnorth divisions are also included.
A number of individuals and bodies have already responded to the Boundary Commission’s consultation, and you can too by looking at the website: www.bce2018.org.uk Public hearings are taking place and, of the four in the West Midlands, the nearest one is at the Prince Rupert Hotel in Shrewsbury on 7th and 8th November. There will be a second round of proposals in due course before a final decision is made. I asked the Town Council’s October meeting to consider the proposals – these will be back before Councillors in December.
The new HGV traffic lights in Sheinton Street A4169 were switched on in the second week in September. The first couple of days saw them working as intended and I was pleased to see an email from a local resident who said “…thank you … for the highly organised manner in which highways operatives installed the new HGV sensors on Sheinton Street. We look forward to the traffic lights making a difference outside our homes, but imagine there may be a period of ‘bedding in’ the system.” That statement was almost prophetic!
Some adjustment to the sensors and timing was, and remains, necessary. Local residents’ concerns which have been received by email, telephone and in the street, have been passed to Mouchel, Shropshire Council’s consultants. They are considering the concerns and an immediate action was removing the advisory signs that were on the traffic signal poles. These were planned to advise motorists of the signals’ purpose but they led to confusion and ambiguity.
Another local resident commented “…I would say there has been a marked improvement, though there have still been instances where large vehicles meet at the crunch point.” Site visits have been carried out in conjunction with the contractors, Dynniq UK Ltd.
At the time of writing the consultants and contractors are looking at how the signals can be “tweaked” to best effect. There are still limited issues with HGVs meeting in the narrow section of Sheinton Street and part of the problem is vehicles ignoring the red traffic lights. This is illegal and offenders risk the full force of the law if and when they are apprehended.
The planning application for affordable housing – a key aspect of Much Wenlock’s nationally-acclaimed Neighbourhood Development Plan – on land at Callaughton lane, near to Oakfield Park, was approved on 11th October. Shropshire Council’s South Planning Committee heard speakers (including me) for and against the proposal, and the Committee then voted unanimously in favour of the application. In accordance with Shropshire Council’s protocol and as the Local Member, I left the room whilst Committee members debated the application’s merits and I did not take part in the vote.
I understand that construction is expected to start in February 2017 with SJ Roberts Construction and Lowfield Timber Frames as the principal contractors. I believe that, in due course, they will be advertising locally for tradesmen and suppliers.
The housing is for local people and the Local Lettings Plan will be finalised shortly. In the meantime those who are interested in these properties would do well to ensure that their current details are registered with Shropshire HomePoint which manages the Shropshire Housing Register, also known as the Housing Waiting List. If you’re interested in the shared equity properties, contact Maggie Davis, or customer services at Shropshire Housing Group on 0300 303 1190.
A month ago I ended my piece about the GP beds with the words “This may be the end of the line for the GP beds, but Much Wenlock will not give them up without a fight!”.
Well, fight we did, and we succeeded. Linda Davies presented the petition at the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Board’s meeting on 14th September. I addressed the Board, setting out the very good value for money argument and persuaded the Chair to circulate to Board members the letters written by the LoF, our MP Philip Dunne, the Town Council, Dr Wentel and by me.
I also addressed Shropshire Council’s Health & Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee on 26th September, to which CCG Board members had been summoned. We were assured by the Committee Chair that it would be reviewing all of the CCG’s proposals most carefully. The LoF, Revd Matthew Stafford and I attended the Shropshire Health & Wellbeing Board on 29th September, when the Rector made an impassioned plea to that Board for common sense to prevail.
Finally, the LoF and I both submitted questions to the CCG Board meeting on 12th October when we were pleased to learn that, as a result of another private rehabilitation beds facility being withdrawn by its provider, the decision had been take to maintain the Much Wenlock GP beds.
Whilst there is no guarantee that the beds have been saved forever, this is clearly a good outcome for Much Wenlock and the surrounding area. It is also a fine example of how our community, pulling together, can achieve great results. Not the end of the line…
At the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Board meeting on 14th September the Chair, Dr Julian Povey, received a petition from Mrs Linda Davies, Chair of the League of Friends of Lady Forester Nursing Home, Much Wenlock, with regards to the proposed closure of community beds at the home. The petition contained 1,423 signatures objecting to the proposed closure. Linda read a statement in support of the petition.
Dr Povey then invited me to raise my question in relation to Lady Forester Nursing Home. I had requested a number of letters from the local MP, Town Council, GP practice and Nursing Home be circulated to Governing Body Members in advance of the meeting. Dr Povey reported that unfortunately the CCG had been unable to do this prior to the meeting but it was agreed that the letters would be circulated after the meeting. I asked why the CCG was considering closing the Pathway 2 rehabilitation beds (“GP beds”) at the Lady Forester Nursing Home in Much Wenlock when they, by the CCG’s own admission, provided better value for money than the alternatives? I also enquired about consultation – I was pleased to read in the policy document that consultation would include engaging with patients, carers, the public and other stakeholders and asked how the CCG intended to consult and at what point in what seemed to be a very short time-frame of four weeks? Also for how long and by what means?
The Chief Executive, David Evans acknowledged that the CCG was in a very difficult financial situation and needed to undertake a process to look at potential areas for disinvestment/decommissioning. Mr Evans emphasised that no decisions had been made in relation to the Lady Forester Nursing Home beds and that the process continued to be followed. Dr Julie Davies reported that the Task & Finish Group was working through stage 4 of the Decommissioning and Disinvestment Interim Policy and that part of the process would be to agree and undertake engagement and consultation on a service-by-service basis as required.
This provided little comfort, and I was therefore pleased that, on 6th October, the League of Friends turned up to Shropshire’s Health & Wellbeing Board meeting held in Shrewsbury.
Much Wenlock’s Team Rector, Revd Matthew Stafford, made a statement about local care and his personal experiences of rehabilitation beds locally and their value across a range of measures.
Both the League of Friends and I have put written questions to the next meeting of the CCG, which is to be held at 9:30am on Wednesday 12th October at Shrewsbury Town Football Club. This is not a public meeting, but a meeting held in public. Members of the public may attend.
A little later than I anticipated, Shropshire Council is now re-consulting on street parking restrictions. I hand-delivered letters to affected properties on 6th October.
The first, in Queen Street and King Street, endeavours to allow the service buses to maneouvre safely to turn around by the Queen Street bus stop. Shropshire Council’s revised proposals are here.
The second affects High Street, Barrow Street and Wilmore Street. After listening carefully to residents’ and traders’ concerns about the original proposals, changes have been made including a loading bay in Wilmore Street. Shropshire Council’s revised proposals are here.
Consultation on these proposals closes on 27th October 2016.