BroadbandDavid Walker campaigning for better broadband by a BT cabinet in West Felton Many moons ago – 15 years ago to be exact – when I was a Councillor for Bridgnorth, I campaigned long and hard to get broadband to Bridgnorth. It arrived in May 2003 after campaigning for over 3 years. As a County Councillor, I also worked to see the roll-out of Broad Places to increase access to better speeds in dead areas. History of Broadband 2000: BT launched broadband 2006: BT Openreach formed 2008: Broadband takes off & Fibre broadband is launched 2009: 50% of people have access to broadband & government promises broadband for all 2009: Coalition / BT Openreach pledges 24mbps for 90% by 2015 2011: first Gigabit service in the UK 2013: Government delayed 24mbps pledge to 2017 for 95% – 86% were getting over 10mbps 2015: Cameron launched Universal Service Obligation (USO) to gaurentee access for all by 2020. BT Openreach misses their 2.5m target – only 10% had 24mbps 2016: MPs report 5.7m broadband customers not getting 10mbps. Cameron’s 2020 pledge abandoned falling back to USO in rural areas. BT and Openreach are split into two companies. 2017: BT fined £42m by…
RetailOur town centres & the retail sector is facing massive cost pressures from Brexit, rising rents, business rates & online shopping are all having an impact. Retail footfall is reducing as people shift to shopping online. Void and empty shops are increasing, retails are going into administration. Yet Shropshire Council Conservatives decided to spend £51m to buy shopping centres in Shrewsbury, for a very short-term gain, in a sector that is undergoing massive change. It would have been more prudent to invest that money directly into the overall economy across Shropshire and not put all of their eggs in one basket. Their strategic investment in the Shropshire Economy has been inadequate for many years. If Shropshire’s market towns are to survive the changes they need to become more attractive and not just a trip to the shops. They have to become more of an event in their own right, with added value that online retail can’t offer. They need to add value and be an attraction with more specialist independent shops.
EducationEducation cuts damage our future economic success by placing a ceiling on productivity, innovation and growth. Cutting education budgets is counterproductive. It is economic madness and damages the social mobility and futures of our children and successive generations. We should be doing more to invest in education, to free future generations to be the best that they can be and to improve our productivity. We should invest in our, our children, and our children’s children future
HousingThe simple uncomfortable truth is that, Nationally and locally, not enough houses are being built. Affordable house to rent and buy is in short supply. For people looking to get on the housing ladder house price growth is outstripping local wages and people’s capacity to save for a deposit is diminishing all the time. Beyond that houses need to be built in the proper places, and residents need to a have a stronger voice in the process, before applications are even submitted. All too often Shropshire Council’s planning system has been development lead with little real urban planning for the long-term. Only recently they failed to sort out their 5-year land supply and had to allow hundreds of houses to be built anywhere, including in West Felton. Shropshire Council is now in the process of updating their sites to meet the needs for the next plan period. Strategically they are still failing to deliver affordable housing.
MLUsRural Midwife Lead Units (MLUs) are under threat of permanent closure. as SaTH looks at ways of restructuring the service to cope with a shortage of midwives at Telford. For over a year Oswestry MLU, as well as the MLUs in Bridgnorth and Ludlow, have been plagued by short-term closures and suspensions. Now they have been closed possibly indefinitely. This Category highlights the campaign to keep the Maternity Unit open 24/7
The NHS & Social Services are facing a massive funding crisis. Winter pressures are growing. The population is ageing. Social Services can’t cope and that burden is now being felt bt the NHS. Outpatient and Inpatient Services, ambulance response times, mental health services, Rural Maternity Services, staffing levels, and care home provision are ALL suffering. Liberal Democrats want to take politics out of the issue altogether by having a cross-party convention on funding. They would also like to see a 1p rise in income tax to fund the NHS properly and unite the NHS and Social Services into a National Health & Social care Service.
Street lightsSodium Street Lights need to be phased out as replacement bulbs won’t be available soon. Converting to LED Street Lights will save up to 80% of the energy bill, are brighter, have a longer life expectancy than sodium, and reduce maintenance costs. Reasons enough to upgrade them now and not wait. Yet, Shropshire Council admits it will take them 36 years.
Shropshire CouncilShropshire Council is the top tier local authority for Shropshire. It is run by the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats are the largest opposition group. Since the Conservatives took charge of the new Unitary Authority for Shropshire they have been plagued by scandal, waste and incompetence. They have made huge cuts to local services, developed a huge black-hole in their finances and have no credible plan to find a sustainable solution to their financial problems