Monthly Archives: December 2013

Flood defences are not the answer for flood abatement

Dear Editor,

The building of more flood defences is no answer. Their effect is short term, as worse and more frequent storms arrive, and spatially they tend simply to shunt the floods on to places downstream.

What is needed is an urgent, wide-scale programme of flood abatement, whereby water is retained in the ground rather than flowing over it to rivers. There are 2 simple and proven strategies:

One is ‘buffer strips’ alongside watercourses, where there is no grazing. The effect is pretty well immediate. Surface water will be absorbed  into these ungrazed strips as into a blotter.

Secondly, afforestation within catchment areas. Woodlands hold huge amounts of water. Beneficial effects may be observed within a decade or  two. 

The problem is, how is this to be achieved?

In most of England, at least, County Councils have the responsibility of ‘leading’ on Floods but few powers or funds. Clearly,strategies like those above require strong powers of direction, at least, and as a ‘carrot’. compensation to landowners for the loss of grazing(or as an encouragement to take steps.) Yet, typically, no such powers or funds are available. Initiatives are small scale and piecemeal, funds are often through ostensibly other routes –  eg  the Clun freshwater mussel(ask me more!), not for flood abatement.

There have been at least 4,maybe more, ‘1 in 100 years’ floods since 2000. Time is not our friend in answering this threat.



New Chair for Old – Bishop’s Castle liberal Democrats

COUNCILLOR  CHARLOTTE  BARNES, who has just become Chair of Bishop’s Castle Lib Dems, presents Peter Phillips with a Christmas gift. ’It is from all the branch, recognising Peter’s great work since he founded the branch in 1973.’

‘Forty years is a long time,’ smiled Peter, ’and I am delighted that we have someone as fantastic as Charlotte to take the baton.’


Lib Dems Reach 100: Christmas Joy in SW Shropshire


A local Lib Dem branch is celebrating the Season by recruiting its 100th member.

Alexandra Uttley, from Stiperstones, has become the 100th member of Bishop’s Castle Lib Dems—yet until recently she was a firm Conservative!

‘I have been convinced above all by the hard work of the Lib Dems locally, ’she said,’ and especially of our local councillor, Heather Kidd. I am going to put my support behind her and her party. One has to respect a party which inspires so much local commitment to residents.’

‘Two years ago we had about 20 members, ’smiled recruitment officer Peter Phillips, ’so since retiring I have gone on a recruitment drive! And the terrific response from local supporters has been most rewarding.’

Chirbury and Worthen Councillor, Heather Kidd, said: ‘It’s wonderful to have Alex on board. We need the energy of younger people. Alex has always been interested in politics. I hope she will inspire others to step forward.’

Broken Promises and School Closures



Broken Tory Promises

Schools open their doors for the new school year..but not at The Wakeman in Shrewsbury.

The closure of the Wakeman School may be seen as the culmination of Shropshire Council’s policy of Monumental and Unprecedented Vandalism…the sustained assault on our schools. I say, ’may be seen’ as more may yet follow.

It is also a story of breathtaking breach of faith by the Tory Council…

In 2008, terrified by Public Fury at their proposals to close 24 primary schools, the Tories backed down. Only one school was chopped.

Prior to the 2009 Council elections, Conservative candidates were enjoined by Owen Patterson MP to pledge support for Shropshire’s schools. Cllr Keith Barrow, at two parish meetings, specifically pledged that Maesbury Primary was safe.  On becoming Leader of Council (June 2009) one of his first statements was in support of our schools………….

HOWEVER(!)..within a year(2010), the Tories tabled a ‘new’schools policy which was a scarcely-veiled blueprint for more schools closures. Only the dense or the hypocritical could have read it in any other way. NO_ONE who voted for that Policy—ie, all the Tory and Labour councillors could have ANY pretence of consistency when their OWN school was subsequently put to the axe. A raft of permanent primary schools was closed. Ifton Heath,a large and well-founded primary, was sacrificed. And then the Wakeman, even though it was known that numbers will require a new secondary within 10 years.

Despite having voted for the Policy of Mass Destruction(not for the first time), Labour leader Alan Mosley then ‘fought for’ the Wakeman – whose demise was a consequence of that Policy. Similarly, Cllr Barrow for Maesbury(yes,it was closed!)….amongst others.

Consistency is a hard taskmaster..too hard for those who voted for a schools closure policy and then manifested surprise when their school was fingered!

Trust in Tory promises is even more demanding.