Happy birthday to BBC Radio Shropshire – thirty years old today

I love local radio and love Radio Shropshire. It’s my station of choice. It’s more than that – it’s a friend. And it has the highest local audience of all local BBC stations.

TV and national radio get successful by creating celebrities. The sort of people you’d take a selfie with.

Local radio is different.

Local radio is at its most successful when it builds a bond of friendship with local communities. The presenters who excel in local radio are those that listen to their audiences as well as talking to them. They craft their broadcasts not just around their own personalities but also their changing communities. They constantly reinvent local broadcasting without betraying the air of familiarity that makes BBC local radio feel so much like a treasured friend. Continue reading


It’s shocking and wrong that so many people rely on food banks – but you can help

It’s an ugly truth of our sometimes ugly age. Acccording to the Trussell Trust, the number of people making use of its 400 food banks has topped one million (but see this cricisim of the 1 million figure, its perhaps only half a million people a year).

I can’t find any data on the total number of food banks in the UK. A lot are run by voluntary organisations, including here in Ludlow. So the number of people in desperate need of food is well over half a million. And yet, the IMF says we are the fifth largest economy in the world.

Five years ago, none of us would have expected the need for food banks to have grown so quickly.


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I agree with Philip Dunne that election posters shouldn’t be defaced – but neither should he deface our town’s heritage

The Conservative candidate for Ludlow is creating a bit of a stink in the media today. He says that his election posters around South Shropshire are being defaced and that’s anti-democratic. I agree.

But Philip Dunne can’t take a moral high ground on this matter. His banners in Ludlow have wrecked a thousand tourist photos.

Anyone cares about the area they might represent would put them where they don’t damage the landscape. That is not what Dunne does. He has wrecked one of the finest views in Ludlow of the Horseshoe Weir by hanging two huge posters above it. He has damaged this great view in pursuit of his own political interests.


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Ludlow water fountain restoration splutters to a halt – will town council take action itself?

I am sorry that a marvellous philanthropic gesture to restore the water fountain in Castle Gardens has come to a halt. The Civic Society has withdrawn its offer to manage and pay for the conservation and repair of the fountain. This is after prevarication in town council committees as councillors challenged the scheme and asked for more reports.

If the Civic Society project cannot now go ahead, then the town council must take action itself.

fountain duathlon

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Environment Agency objects on fuel pollution concerns to petrol station and supermarket at Rocks Green, Ludlow

The Environment Agency has formally objected to the application for a petrol station and supermarket on the outskirts of Ludlow. The agency is concerned about the petrol filling station (PFS) and the location of fuel storage tanks. In a letter sent to Shropshire Council on 13 April it says:

Whilst we note that this application is outline we seek confirmation on the PFS element of the proposals and, specifically, the location of the associated tanks to ensure no detrimental impacts on controlled waters.

The agency is taking issue because the fuel tanks might be located below ground:

We will object to underground storage on principal and secondary aquifers unless there is evidence of overriding reasons why: (a) the activity cannot take place on unproductive strata, and (b) the storage must be underground (for example public safety), in which case we expect the risks to be appropriately mitigated. Continue reading


Poll: Will arrival of PizzaExpress in Ludlow chip away at historic character of our town or bring great pizzas with love attached?

I can never think PizzaExpress without recalling love affairs, tangled, sometimes complex, occasionally eased over a well stretched pizza. Now PizzaExpress is coming to our town. I’d like to know your views on whether this is good for Ludlow.


Way back in the late 1970s, marauding hoards of archaeologists young and old met in PizzaExpress in Covent Garden on a Friday night to debate the world of the past – and our fears for its future – over glorious pizza. I was there seeking love amid heritage. I stoked my passions for both with carafes of red wine. Continue reading