Ludlow Teme education centre proposed by Severn Rivers Trust – it looks a great idea

There’s a plan to build a new education centre on the Teme at Dinham. It’s really exciting.

When I first heard of these plans, I wasn’t certain how this scheme would work. We don’t have much space available at Dinham and, instinctively, it is not a place to be putting up more buildings. After meeting Mike Morris, deputy director of the Severn Rivers Trust on site last week, I am thrilled by the idea. This could be a new tourist attraction as well as an education centre.

The idea is to build an education centre on the west bank of the Teme near Dinham weir. This site is currently an unmanaged field. It has a degree of biodiversity but is otherwise rough vegetation.

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Off with your blog! I’ve been censored by Shropshire Council for revealing it intends to [censored by Shropshire Council]

I’ve loved the news today. With the confirmation that gravitational waves exist, we can see the universe the way it is. It is a whole new way of looking at the space and time, and understanding it better. I take my hat off to the scientists who have taken the power of information to an extraordinary level.

This doesn’t happen in Shropshire of course. At least not at Shropshire Council.

A few years ago, I published an article on Lib Dem Voice suggesting that our council was slipping into a black hole of democracy. I wasn’t a councillor then. Nearly two years after being elected, I don’t have a better view of the council. When it can keep information secret, it will. It loves to make decisions in camera, with the press and public excluded. That has not changed one bit with the election of the new leader.

Earlier in the week, I published an article about an attempt to [censored by Shropshire Council]. It involved a committee called [censored by Shropshire Council]. I have been asked by council officials to remove the post.

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Shropshire Council’s failed company ip&e is to be liquidated according to local media

There is an excellent beer festival going on down at Ludlow Brewery right now. A couple of hours ago, I took a moment out from a sampling session to take a call from the Shropshire Star. Reporters on the newspaper had learnt that Shropshire Council is about to make a decision to close its private company, ip&e. BBC Radio Shropshire has been reporting the same news.

Papers for next week’s cabinet meeting are not yet published. But I am guessing that there will be a paper proposing that ip&e, the brainchild of former council leader Keith Barrow, is going to be abolished. This should not be too difficult, as most staff are seconded from the council rather than transferred under TUPE.

The Shropshire Star quotes me as saying:

Andy Boddington said he was unsurprised about but had “mixed feelings” about the company’s demise.

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Shropshire’s new council leader is determined your voice won’t be heard at council meetings [censored]

[Shropshire Council has censored this blog post.]

Members of the public have always had a right to be heard at Shropshire Council meetings. Since the council was founded in 2009, public questions and petitions have been heard at the beginning of the meeting. That’s going to change. The new council leader, Malcolm Pate, is determined to end any public participation in council meetings.

At present residents can ask a public question. The question is tabled at the beginning of the meeting. The resident then asks a supplementary question. It is answered by a cabinet member.

This will end under Malcolm Pate’s proposals. Public questions and the answers to them will be noted at the meeting, with no opportunity to ask a supplementary question. There will be no public participation as at present. It will not be worth members of the public turning up. Many will think it will not be worth asking a question at all if all that happens is that it is minuted in a thick wodge of council papers.

Maybe that is Malcolm Pate’s intention. To discourage the public from asking questions which challenge the council’s actions.

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Young people growing up in Shropshire don’t get the life chances they might get elsewhere – we are going to tackle this in Ludlow

We aren’t giving young people in Shropshire the best chance in life, according to new data published by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. We are about to launch a resilient communities project in Ludlow to tackle this.

Let’s have a look at the data first.

The commission’s social mobility index looks at the chances people have of doing well in life dependant on where they live. It is no surprise that children in Westminster have the greatest social mobility, though many unfamiliar with West Somerset might not guess it is the least socially mobile district in England. If I had been asked to guess where we perform as a county, I would have said “middling, about midway”.

The Social Mobility Index puts Shropshire just below midway in social mobility, 185th among 324 local authority districts.

This headline score disguises our rather poor position on social mobility of youth.

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Today is National Libraries Day – ten days ago Shropshire Council agreed finance plans that could wreck the county library service

Shropshire Council is being rather quiet about National Libraries Day. It issued a low profile press release two weeks ago and there are just four events running. It is perhaps not surprising that the council seems to be keeping its head below the parapet.

Shropshire Council is predicting that library budgets will be reduced by a million pounds, with a one third cut from April 2017. Hours at the six largest hub libraries will be reduced and they may be run by new providers (the hub libraries are about to be reviewed). Some of the sixteen smaller libraries are at risk of closure. It is unlikely that the mobile libraries service will survive. The workforce is to be “redesigned” – a cruel phrase probably means redundancy.

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