Introduction.

You may have taken part in Shropshire Council’s recent consultation on their ‘New Early Help Delivery Model’. The intention of this new delivery model is to improve services for children, young people and families by visiting parents at their homes as opposed to meeting groups in a communal building. 

The implications of this for Crowgate mean. Shropshire Council could stop using half of the centre which I understand will put unsustainable pressure on the building as a whole. Essentially causing it to potentially close. I should add that this is not a direct intention of the new delivery model but a more complex cause of its implementation.

Problems.

I personally faced a few problems with the consultation its self. While I was entering my children’s age into the survey, I noticed it was not possible to select more than one age group of children. This means that only one of my children were recorded by the survey. This will have been the case for anyone who has children more than 4 years apart county wide. Which as far as I’m concerned renders their collected data incorrect and invalid. 

We recently hosted a second meeting at Crowgate, as the first was badly publicised. In some parts of the county no one came at all.  At this meeting, The local community agreed unanimously that the efficiencies described in the new delivery model were not applicable to the rural areas. For example having someone driving door to door in SW Shropshire means they will spend most of their time driving. This proposal to visit door to door and not in a communal setting also appears to promote isolation. Which is already a huge problem for new parents. 

The main issue of the consultation seems to be that they are not recognising Bishops Castle as a Central Hub. Which it is. It is small one. But, by Shropshire Councils own admission regarding the SpArC Centre it IS A HUB. The new model states that their will be six hubs across Shropshire where these services will be run from. Maybe we’re being pessimistic but I doubt they have considered that Bishops Castle will be one of these hubs. 

Solution and next steps. 

Officers from Shropshire council refused to come to our second meeting. They told us it was too political. This complaint is new to me, a council is a political structure and apparently being part of it is a reason to be denied a meeting. Anyhow, The next step is to invite an officer from the council for a tour around the area and Crowgate. As members of the community that attended the meeting felt that the new delivery model was not compatible and failed to understand the challenges of rural areas. I will be very disappointed if they refuse to come again.

In my view the ultimate goal in my opinion is to force the point that Bishops Castle should be one of these six hubs. Failing that, There should seven hubs. Which, of course Bishops Castle should be one. 

This is not unreasonable Bishops Castle is a long way from anywhere and serves many villages around it. Expecting young mothers and fathers to travel on busses with children, and in some cases babies is unfair. Considering most people are very happy with the great service they get at Crowgate.  

I absolutely recognise the challenges that SC face,  I also see the good intentions behind this new model. However, I don’t think it has been formed with severely rural areas in mind and I will be making the point that concessions should be made. Otherwise once again we are to be punished for our rurality and our strong community.   

Have your say below in the comment section. It is valuable to know what the wider community thinks. Also, I will add that more clarity will come soon. The consultation was not big on the finer details and this is based on my understanding of it.  

  

 

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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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