Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The threat to council services in Church Stretton - and everywhere else

The Liberal Democrat peer Julie Smith - Baroness Smith of Newnham - visited Church Stretton in Shropshire earlier this month.

I have been sent some photographs from her visit. See if you can spot the common factor.

That's right. This small Shropshire town is faced with the loss of its library, swimming pool and ohter facilities because of spending cuts by the county council.

Meanwhile, Barclays is planning to close the last bank in Church Stretton.

Julie Smith said during her visit:
"Facilities like the pool, the library, the children's centre and the visitor information centre all play an important role in the life and health of the area. Their contribution is very significant to the town’s wellbeing and to its economy, yet they are all under threat from Shropshire Council’s plans. 
It is very much to be hoped that Shropshire Council will  step back from these damaging proposals which, in the scheme of things, will make an insignificant contribution to the council’s financial problems."
And Heather Kidd, chair of the local Lib Dem constituency party, said:
"Our small market towns are being hollowed out. Their vibrancy, their attractiveness to businesses, are imperilled. Yet the large towns, which have many times the population, could finance their own services at very little extra on their council tax. Our small towns simply do not have the tax base to do so. Already, Church Stretton’s band D is £174 , while Shrewsbury’s is only £45."
England’s mainly Conservative-run county councils have warned ministers that the "worst is yet come" over cuts to services and that several authorities risk going bust unless steps are taken to shore up budgets.
To end on a happier note, we can agree with what Julie Smith said after visiting the Shropshire hills:
"This is a stunningly beautiful part of the country."

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