Monthly Archives: January 2013

Bishop’s Castle Bank to Stay?

When Barclays closed their Bishop’s Castle branch last year, it was in the face of overwhelming Public opinion and an 800 signature petition organised by Cllr Charlotte Barnes.

Charlotte said: it was clearly difficult for hundreds of people around the area, and weakened the commercial offer of the Town. 

It was understood that the other big banks had an understanding that the last one in town would endeavour to keep open, but that HSBC was not in that agreement.

Charlotte Barnes contacted Vince Cable’s office to see if this could be followed up, if there was no committment from HSBC, people would not be encouraged to move to them. She also thought that there would certainly be enough footfall in Town to keep a ‘one-stop’ branch open if the banks would co-operate.’

 Ministerial responses were not rapid! But Vince Cable’s officials have had conversations with HSBC and now got back to Charlotte. HSBC have firmly declined to co-operate on the single branch idea.

There is more optimism in relation to the closure of the last branch. There may be some reassurance in their claim that they would only close in Bishops Castle if there were ‘no commercial alternative’ and after a ‘rigorous analysis of its commercial viability’ taking the ‘provision of alternative banking facilities into account.

‘Meanwhile,Charlotte is pursuing the question of the voluntary agreement and if there is one why HSBC is not signed up. This is an issue that has implications for any market town in the country striving to maintain its commercial and trading offer.

 

Below: with Charlotte Barnes, March 2012, with the petition against Barclays Bank closing

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Flooding: Council urged to act

Floods have become more frequent and more severe over the last decade. Damage to houses,roads,shops etc has escalated.Now,Shropshire Council has been urged to take the lead on Flod Prevention,Flood Alleviation. And the initial response has been encouraging.

 Lib Dem leader, Cllr Nigel Hartin, met Council Leader,Keith Barrow,to urge him to take up the challenge to tackle this severe and growing problem.

This is clearly a threatening problem,yet there seems to be no coherent strategy, indeed no strategic body in the County to take a lead on this. Shropshire Council is legally the Lead Local Flood Authority for the County and, indeed, the appropriate democratically elected body. I am delighted that Keith Barrow agreed to meet us—and that expressed enthusiasm for grasping this nettle.

Party politics has no place in the face of the threat of flooding.

I briefed Cllrs Barrow and Hartin and noted that: no fewer than 3 working groups have had flood alleviation on their agenda in recent years but no action has resulted; Prof Bains has addressed the council on the topic; the Council sent me to a Lancaster University conference on flood prevention but my report, sent to the Council’s Chief Executive was not been acknowledged.

Keith’s response was very encouraging, the strategies are really n essence,so simple! One is to fence off a couple of yards alongside watercourses to prevent stock grazing, rainwater coming down the slope soaks into the ungrazed ground like blotting paper! The second is to plant trees. Inside those two simple messages, of course, are lots of more detailed approaches and, indeed, additional ones, but the basic idea is to soak up rainfall into the groundwater so the floods are, as it were, diffused at source.’

These actions have been trialled locally,in the Vyrnwy and in the Clun Valley.

I suggested to Cllr Barrow that he could consider convening a small working group of key players. It should agree actions to be taken;draw up an action plan;and,of course,establish what money might be needed and where we might get it from…

Time is no friend on this one. Flooding is getting more frequent and more severe every year. Our residents will applaud any action we can take to alleviate it. I was most encouraged by Keith Barrow’s positive stance and look forward to working with him on this one.