It’s election time again. I was elected only eight months ago via a by-election, right at the end of the term. This means I am standing again to continue as councillor representing the Bishops Castle division in Shropshire Council.

The Bishops Castle division contains Lydham, Norbury, Wentnor, Ratlinghope, Lydbuy North Edgton and all the villages surrounding those places.

Once again I am going to be asking for your vote on May 4th , I would like to be able to continue with projects I am currently working on and assisting with. I will outline some of the main areas below.

Business, Economic Growth and Jobs in the area.

I am on the board of the Community Land Trust and the Committee for Enterprise and Growth at Shropshire Council. Much of what we have been working on are plans to develop the business park to allow expansion of businesses, more jobs locally and services to allow start-ups, independants and self employed workers a place to collaborate and build from. There is more information on this coming in a dedicated post.

Shropshire council are focussing a lot of their economic aspirations on transport connections in the north such as the M54. I have been making the case that while SW Shropshire does not have strong transport connections, if the council were to invest heavily in our digital connections such as prioritising fibre broadband in the rural areas of the SW it would instigate new businesses and start ups and give existing business a much needed boost. We could become a digital centre of Shropshire. I believe this would make rural Shropshire a very competitive environment for many types of business that rely on an internet connection.

Housing

I am on the board of the Community Land Trust. For a time, I lived in one of two houses built by the CLT. Having been a beneficiary of the Land Trust I wanted to input my ideas and be a part of the group developing this type of housing. I believe they have added two very important properties to the Bishops Castle housing stock and I would like to see more of this type of housing in our area.

As councillor I have also been making sure that people are able to use and are served by the councils housing system. if you are having difficulties with housing please get in touch.

It is my view that not only do we need more housing in the area, we need to be very careful that it is the right type of housing. Whether it is to buy or rent there is a current demand for 2 and 3 bed houses for families that have grown up here, wish to stay, but are having to consider moving elsewhere.

Broadband and Mobile Signal.

I mentioned above that Shropshire Council is focussing a lot of economic growth on transport connections. South Shropshire will never be closer to the M54. By prioritising fibre broadband in the rural southwest we are giving those businesses a boost and making the most out of our fantastic rural businesses. I don’t believe we should be left behind purely because of  the challenges of our geography. Strong digital connections in the south will bring balance to the strong transport connections in the north.

Investigating mobile signal can be a challenge. These are commercial companies therefore information is not as accessible as at Shropshire Council. However there have been a number of planning applications going in for mobile masts one of which is in the Ratlinghope area. This is a positive thing for those without signal.

During a meeting recently with a planning office I raised the point that while this is a good thing that masts are in the pipeline. I would like to see the proposed area of signal to become part of the planning process. I don’t want to see small villages left behind by commercial companies because there isn’t a strong business interest. It seems to me the best time to make these changes is during planning. preventative measures and changes are generally the most cost effective.

Youth Services

We have already managed to get youth projects funded such as football clubs, music clubs and the scouts / beavers. I still feel there is a lot more that we can do. Essential work is starting soon at the underground (this is the space beneath the public hall in Bishops Castle). Once this work is complete the space will become a safe and viable place for youth activities and projects. I am just part of the committee, this space has been a triumph of the whole committee and the community that have supported the building.

A big part of achieving funding is connecting the people who need funding with the people who are supplying grants and funding. If you are aware of youth projects that need funding or grant schemes that we may not be aware of please get in touch.

There is more, I will leave this for another post. Thank you if you have read all the way through. If you have any questions or suggestions for things that need attention please comment below I will get back quickly.

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Jonny is a Shropshire Councillor, musician and film maker. I also work as a web designer and graphic design and consult with business regarding their presence online.

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