Poll: the 5p plastic bag charge came in today – what is your view?

From this morning, a 5p charge comes in for single-use carrier bags. This welcome move will encourage people to reuse bags saving energy resources. It will reduce plastic bag litter on land and in our oceans.

The carrier bag charge is not a government tax. The money raised is expected to go to charity (but stores could legally keep it).

Unfortunately, as is common with almost anything that comes out of Whitehall, the charge is not being introduced a straightforward way. Stores employing less than 250 employees are exempt from the charge, though many will introduce it voluntarily. It would have been much simpler to introduce the charge for all stores. And it would have been better if all bags, regardless of whether they are paper or plastic are charged.

It is not clear why introduction of the charge has taken so long. Most stores have wanted it. Ireland introduced its charge in 2002, Wales in 2011, Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014. But again, it is characteristic of some parts of Whitehall that if something can be slowly, it will be.

Critics of the charging scheme say that it will lead to a greater use of black plastic bags. They cite Ireland as an example. In 2004, the British Retail Consortium said the charge had led to a 1000% increase in bin liners and a rise in shoplifting. There was indeed an increase in bin liners and a move towards heavier duty carrier bags. But I have never seen evidence for a ten-fold increase in bin liners. In any event, this was 2002 when Ireland sent most of its household waste to landfill. Now in the UK,

The BRC has recently muted its criticism, perhaps because most of the big retailers it represents have welcomed the charge and some have already introduced bag charges. It is now calling for charges to be introduced to smaller stores; something the Association of Convenience Stores says will be welcome.

For me, limiting the use of plastic bags is just one-step in helping clean up our environment.

This is what the Sussex Wildlife Trust says on the impact of carrier bags:

Plastic pollution is a global issue and it needs to be tackled at source. Around the coast our beaches are cleaned by wonderful volunteers on countless beach cleans, but all too often their efforts are undone when the next high tide brings in more litter. Plastic chokes and traps animals and some, like turtles, birds and fish mistake them for food and all too often die of starvation caused by a digestive system full of plastic. Plastic, never completely decomposes, it only breaks down into smaller and smaller particles.

Reducing the use of plastic carrier bags in England is only a small step towards solving this global problem, but if we don’t take a lot of small steps, we won’t ever clean up the world.

Of course, in an environmentally conscious town like Ludlow, many people have used sisal, cotton and other alternatives to single use carrier bags for a long time. Many of us reuse plastic bags as many times as we can (which happens to be the most energy efficient approach). Other towns have declared themselves plastic-bag free town.

There is no single big thing we can do to reduce our impact on the environment. We need a lot of small steps. The introduction of the carrier bag charge today, no matter how imperfect the scheme is, means we have made one step towards a cleaner, greener planet.

What do you think? Is the introduction of a carrier bag charge a good move?


Plans for five homes on Burway Lane, Ludlow refused

A year after they were submitted, council planners have rejected plans for five houses, four for open market sale and one affordable, on a greenfield site south of Burway Lane on the outskirts of Ludlow (14/04215/OUT). This is very much the right decision as only affordable housing for identified needs should be built outside the town’s development boundary. (One affordable house on the adjacent plot has already been approved.)


In rejecting the application, Shropshire Council said the development would be significantly harmful to the character and appearance of the area. It said, “Development of this ribbon like nature, and set at this particular location, would greatly affect this soft transition into the open countryside beyond.” The council continued: Continue reading


The Future Fit hospital programme has ground to a halt – now it must have a complete overhaul

Guest post by Councillor Tracey Huffer.

Yesterday afternoon, the team overseeing the Future Fit programme to reshape announced that it is deferring a decision on the future of A&E services in Shropshire. After more than two years of work, the question of whether the county will be reduced to a single accident and emergency centre at either Shrewsbury or Telford, or whether the current two A&Es will continue. It is now likely to be the autumn of 2016 before the Future Fit board makes this vital decision.

It is very frustrating that no decision has been reached. But it is also an opportunity to undertake a root and branch review of the entire Future Fit scheme (as I called for earlier this week). Too often Future Fit has had its head in the clouds, pursuing dream projects like a new super-hospital between Shrewsbury and Telford. That was never affordable. Because Future Fit didn’t have its feet on the ground, it has failed to recognise the contributions that community hospitals like Ludlow’s can make.

The delay to Future Fit gives an opportunity to change the way that the programme is run. It should be more practical and less theoretical. It should build on the resources we have rather than trying to reinvent things from scratch. Otherwise, Future Fit will only grind to a halt again.

Continue reading


At last, some progress on repairing Ludlow’s town walls

In the heady days after the town walls collapsed behind St Laurence’s on 18 February 2013, there were promises of immediate action to repair them and even Shropshire Council dipping into its pockets to fund the work.

It has been a long and arduous road since then involving tortuous discussions between lawyers and repairs to repairs (see previous articles). Finally, there seems to be agreement on who is responsible. The following press release has been issued: Continue reading


Councillor Tracey Huffer calls for root and branch review of the future of Future Fit after management changes

In recent weeks, it has become known that Caron Morton and Bill Gowans, two of the key figures in the Future Fit project, have stepped back from running the programme intended to reshape Shropshire’s hospital services. Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East believes that this could provide an opportunity to reshape the entire Future Fit project. Her call for a review also follows a survey under way in Ludlow that reveals that most people don’t know much about Future Fit. Those that do know about it do not trust the project to deliver the right decisions.

Tracey says:

“The problem has been that this project has been based on what might be, rather than what can be.

Continue reading


Details of inquiry into 215 homes off Bromfield Road announced – do you want to speak?

This morning the planning inspectorate announced final arrangements for the public inquiry into plans by Tesni Properties for 215 homes between Bromfield Road and the A49 – a development known as Bromfield Meadows (15/02192/REF).

The inquiry is at Shirehall. It is expected to last no more than a day, 27 October 2015. The inquiry will begin at 10:00am and will be overseen by planning inspector Brian Sims.


Continue reading


#RefugeesWelcome Public Meeting in Ludlow – Thursday 1 October

Ludlow’s Mayor Paul Draper and myself are hosting a public meeting to discuss what our community can do to help refugees during the current crisis.

Please come along to talk about what you are doing and how you might be able to help.

The meeting is at 7.00pm for 7.30pm at the Feathers Hotel this coming Thursday, 1 October.



Donations on their way to CALAID

Photos by Nicola North who is collecting locally for CALAID along with Clare Whitehead. The children’s clothes shop Smartie has been a drop off point. South Shropshire Furniture Scheme lent a driver and a van. Other donations have been made through Ludlow’s churches. Nicola tells me that collecting has finished for CALAID, and is now for Kos Kindness, Leros Kindness and Mercy Worldwide who have links to the major camps in the Greek Islands and the Middle East.