As 2017 draws to a close spare a thought for everybody working hard over Christmas to make sure ours is happy and safe.
#MerryChristmas for you all….when sit down with your family or friends to Christmas dinner or Christmas Supper, just spent one minutes to think or pray about all peoples who decide to serve for you, not been served by you…who decided to do hard job helping for others rather pic.twitter.com/hqlATkHhfY
Likewise, for all those who are lonely, recently bereaved or missing somebody special this Christmas. Having been there myself Christmas can be an especially hard time of year when often you feel most alone in a crowd of happy people.
West Felton Parish Council is inviting householders in the Parish to come along to the Village Hall in the upcoming month to receive their FREE ‘Smartwater’ kit enabling you to mark your valuables which, if stolen, can then be traced directly to your home.
Smartwater allows residents to mark their homes and property with water that is unique chemically coded their address. This water shows up under ultra-violet light. In the event of a theft and subsequent recovery of property by the Police, the unique code of the water means that the stolen property can be returned to the rightful owner. The Police are providing signs to go up across the parish to deter thieves.
Ultimately this will free up thin police resources away from petty theft to more important policing. If crimes of this sort are further reduced it should translate into lower insurance premiums for residents.
The initial roll-out of this system, which has the backing and support of the local policing team will be held in 2 sessions:
Between 7pm and 9pm on Monday 4th December;
and Between 10am and 1pm on Saturday 9th December
After noticing a few things going pearshaped with some of the category postings and the way the site was rendering on different clients I decided to begin a complete revamp of my website. The old house in Telford is going back on the market so have more time to do a thorough job on my website. The house and work have both been dominating my time since the Summer.
During the run-up to May’s election residents complained to me about the broken blindspot mirror on Station Road next to the level crossing.
Mopping up election casework had to wait until after the general election had finished as I was the Agent for Hannah Fraser in Shrewsbury in the General Election. I reported the sign to Shropshire Council on the 1st of July with fixmystreet.
This mirror had been broken for quite a while apparently and is a pain for residents coming out of the junction seeing traffic approaching from the right. This is quite a dangerous situation for vehicles emerging from the junction if their view is restricted.
I am pleased it is now fixed and the risk to residents has been reduced.
Owing to having too much money in balances at West Felton Parish Council, the need for a proper financial plan was raised by another member. This appeared on the August agenda and I asked that LED street lighting was placed into the mix. Given that LED street lights produce a revenue savings year on year, in an 80% reduction in the energy bill and the ongoing maintenance bill. A saving that could be used to reduce the precept and parishes element resident’s council tax.
Regrettably, I was working away the week of the meeting and gave my apologies.
At the September meeting, I talked about the report from the Green Investment Bank that I had shared with the Clerk prior to the August meeting. This can be seen in the in my LED Street lights must be rolled out article. One of the members asked for a detailed breakdown of the costs and that the list of lights needed updating. A task I agreed to do for the next meeting.
I have sent an updated list of the Street Lights owned by the parish as a Fusion Table and Map for the Clerk to add to the Parish Council’s website, along with a break down of the costs ahead of tomorrow’s October meeting.
I have also reported to the clerk that a number of lights on The Avenue aren’t working.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, members hadn’t seen it prior to the meeting so it was agreed to discuss the figures at the next meeting. (The figures were distributed on November 5th.) I mentioned during the debate about the lights out on the avenue and tried to persuade members to replace all 39 lights with LEDs as this would be more cost-effective just than replacing the broken lights on The Avenue. Members were torn with some only wanting to address the broken lights. The clerk was asked to ask Highline to survey the lights.
UPDATE 2: At the November Meeting on the 14th we again discussed the lights at length. I again raised the lights that were still out on the Avenue and pointed out that another light was also down at The Wheatlands junction. Highline came back with their fees for upgrading the lights to LEDs. Figures for individual lights were comparable with the numbers I had previously supplied. Indeed if all 39 were upgraded it would have been less than my estimate. Highline have been instructed to make the repairs.
UPDATE 3: As we head to the December meeting next week the broken lights on the Avenue still are out of action 19 weeks or 2 months after I first reported them! I had forgotten how frustratingly slow Council decision making and processes can be. Considering that we are at the darkest part of the year if these lights were actually needed when they were first installed then they need sorting quickly. As for the rest of the lights, I remain of the view that the savings outway any reason for further delay. We have already squandered a big chunk of the energy bill savings we could have started to build up this winter.
Given the shockingly slow rollout of Superfast Broadband to rural areas by BT Openreach this is welcome news. Some places are already receiving Ultrafast Broadband and we are still rocking and rolling with basic Broadband or Fibre Broadband Connections. Diversification of the technology and the supply is a welcome addition in terms of consumer choice. Residents can now register their interest in the system here: AirBand Register your interest
As with the previous introduction of new broadband technologies and campaigns that I have been involved in, like the campaign we led in Bridgnorth that ultimately brought broadband to Bridgnorth in 2002, the more people who pre-register their interest in the service then the quicker the service is rolled out in an area.
Currently the only alternative method of getting Broadband into hard to reach areas is to use Satelite Broadband from providers like Tooway. We used Tooway at work at our offices in Upton Magna for a few years and found the service to be good on the whole. Prior to that Upton Magna received broader internet through a Microwave link to the Wrekin. This was later superceded by ISDN. We fumbled along with multiple ISDN lines for a while.
The main downside of Satelite Broadband was the lag as the data/webpage request had to travel via satellite to Italy and back. This produces a perceptible lag which is no good to real-time applications like online gaming. However, for most people and us the delay wasn’t noticeable when browsing or transferring files. The data bandwidth was good so the data travelling in big chunks. So pages loaded instantly, if after a tiny delay. Having said all of that, once Superfast Broadband came to Upton Magna late in 2015 we dropped it straight away. We now get 80mbps per line there.
Hopefully, the AirBand technology will be using the same TV White Space technology to broadcast the signal into the very hardest to reach crevices in the county. If that is the case then this is very welcome news indeed.
Yesterday supporters of the MLU joined a march in support of keeping the MLU open without any service reduction. The march started at The Bailey Head and from Gobowen Station and converging at the MLU.
I volunteered as a Marshal for the March from The Bailey Head.
The march was extremely well supported and plenty of media coverage on the day. In glorious weather, we made our way via Burma Road, Park Hall and received plenty of support along the route.
The march was to protest at the ‘temporary’ closure of the units in Oswestry, Ludlow and Bridgnorth in order to prioritise the units at Telford, and at the proposed introduction of an on-call midwife system across rural Shropshire.
Over the course of the election and the months, beforehand, a number of issues were brought to my attention that still needs attention. Despite losing the County Election I will continue to work with residents to improve the situation. Given the lack of action previously this will keep me busy for a while. Casework from the election:
Speeding and traffic particularly on Station Road, Top Street, Boot Street in Whittington, Babbinswood and Queens Head.
Parking issues particularly around Station Road and Three Trees in Whittington, and at the Cross in West Felton, when the school opens and closes
Broken blind spot mirror on Station Road junction by level crossing was reported to me. This mirror has been broken for quite a while apparently and is a pain for residents coming out of the junction seeing traffic approaching from the right. This is quite dangerous so I reported it straight away.
Again on Station Road, residents complained about a collapsing manhole and loose lid making noise.
Speeding traffic past the houses on Berghill Lane Babbinswood and vehicles using the lane as a Rabbit Run. Residents had complained that traffic was speeding past the houses and had previously complained. It is obvious to me that these Signs are far too near the junction with the B5009 and provide scant protection or amenity to residents on Berghill Lane
Fly-tipping in the Woods between Inglis Road and The Venue, Parkhall. Resident in Park Hall complained to me that they couldn’t let their kids play in the woods anymore because of the fly-tipping and the potential worry of needles in the rubbish. The fact that the source of the rubbish is a site owned by Shropshire Council makes Shropshire Council’s inability to clear up this mess laughable.
The need for a footpath on the missing section of Burma Road, Park Hall. This is problem pedestrians accessing the Venue or further afield along this road.
Thank you to everybody who voted yesterday and especially so to those who vote for me. I exceed my minimum expectations in an area not worked properly before and where I was unknown before. Plenty of analysis to do but clearly, there is plenty to build on for next time.
Charmley, Steve Conservative 613 53.44%
Goff, Edward David Green 152 13.25%
Jones, Christopher Lee Independent 84 7.32%
Walker, David Liberal Democrats 298 25.98%
Total votes: 1147
Update 6th May 2017: Back home after a long session of parish council counts. Pleased to say I have been elected on to West Felton Parish Council. So the wait was worth it. Thank you to everybody who voted
Thanks to the diligence of Andy Boddington, Shropshire Conservatives have been forced to scrap their election manifesto. Andy discovered yesterday that Shropshire Conservatives had misappropriated a photograph from an Australian mental health charity, and tried to pass it off as their own. The image is the principle image on the front of their manifesto, appearing in the masthead.
After Andy contacted the media, the Conservatives tried to laugh it off before the heat forced a climb-down. They agreed to apologise to the charity, to stop delivering the leaflets and to compensate the charity.
To blatantly steal the image is appalling. The fact it was stolen from a charity is an outrage. I hope the compensation they are paying to the charity is considerable. I also hope that for once they follow through on their promises, compensate them well and junk the leaflet as promised. Cynical me thinks they may try and duck out the compensation and still deliver the leaflet.
You have to wonder why they couldn’t rustle up half a dozen Conservatives for their leaflet lol