Voting is your democratic right as a citizen of the UK.
Local elections for town and parish councils and for Shropshire Council take place on 4th May. You may vote only if you are on the electoral register. Individual voter registration means that it is no longer the responsibility of the “head of the household” to list the names of voters. It is now down to the individual. To check if you’re on the register, send an email to email@example.com or call 0345 678 9015.
If you’re not on the register, there are a number of ways in which you can apply. For many of us, our national insurance number and our date of birth, coupled with a smartphone means we can register in less than two minutes. Just go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. If you’d rather complete a paper form, please contact 0345 678 9015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the Inspector’s Examination of the Site Allocations and Management of Development (SAMDev) Plan, Shropshire Council committed to an early partial review of its Local Plan, extending the plan period from 2026 to 2036. Strategic options include:
- Housing Requirement
- Strategic distribution of future growth
- Strategies for employment growth
- Delivering development in rural settlements
Much Wenlock, of course, has a Neighbourhood Development Plan which was adopted in July 2014. It covers the period from 2013 to 2026 and clearly the roll forward to 2036 raises a number of important issues. I am keen to ensure that the consultation process recognises the Neighbourhood Plan’s importance and the local tensions around housing numbers. I therefore spoke at Shropshire Council’s Cabinet meeting today (18th January). You can hear what I said at about 22:40 and Portfolio Holder Cllr Mal Price’s response at around 28:10.
3rd December saw the sixteenth Christmas Fayre hit the streets of our town.
I rolled out of bed at 5:30am to take my place marshaling in Barrow Street by The Raven Hotel ensuring that stallholders could transport their wares to the marquees. Despite the cold and the early hour, folk were cheerful and looking forward to a busy day. They weren’t disappointed. By 10:30 when the stalls had been dressed and stocked, the streets were packed.
Parking at Wm Brookes School filled almost immediately and the park and ride service from Edge Renewables site on Stretton Road was soon in full flow. Folk trying to drive past the town encountered some delays simply as a result of the volume of traffic on our narrow streets.
All of the stalls that I saw seemed to be doing a thriving trade. The hot food was flying out, visitors from far and wide browsed the jewellery and art stalls, and charity raffle tickets sold well. I know, because I invested heavily (and won a couple of prizes)!
This event was very well-received and deserves our support – a few folk work very hard to make a success of it and they need more. If you’d like to help, contact email@example.com
I recently referred to the Boundary Commission’s exercise to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and the proposal to split the current Ludlow constituency – of which Much Wenlock is part.
Having taken soundings locally, and also being asked by Much Wenlock Town Council, I spoke at the Boundary Commission hearing in Shrewsbury on 7th November. I made the case for Much Wenlock to be part of the new Ludlow & Leominster constituency with changes to the proposals to exclude two Bromyard wards. This counter-proposal means that the new constituency elector numbers would still satisfy the required criterion. See www.bce2018.org.uk.
Our MP, Philip Dunne, spoke along similar lines in the same session and we were supported by Lord (Jeff) Rooker, the former Labour minister, who nowadays lives in Ludlow. The comments on the consultation will be published in early 2017 as part of the secondary consultation.
On Friday five of us set off from The Square armed with bags and pickers to find more litter around the town. Farley Road, as ever, yielded most but the usual selection of discarded bottles, cans and packets from around the town swelled the bags which Shropshire Council provides.
Unusually for our tidy-ups, it would be possible to identify the culprit of one bit of detritus that was found this week – a vehicle number plate that seems to have become detached from a 2011-registered Mercedes-Benz Vito panel van. I suspect that the owner didn’t drop it at the side of the road – it’s most likely to have come loose unintentionally.
The next litter pick will be held on Monday 5th December, starting at The Square at about 10:15am. We’re holding this, unusually, on a Monday because it’s immediately following the Christmas Fair. The organisers always arrange a tidy-up after the Fair has cleared away but we expect to be able to carry out a second “sweep” to good effect. If you’d like to join us, just turn up as arranged. Hi-viz jackets and pickers are provided but, if you have your own, bring them along and wear a pair of gardening gloves. Sue and Jo at Tea On The Square kindly provide us with a complimentary cuppa to reward our efforts when we finish.
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.