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.




Peter takes a break after forty years….!…..

A veteran Lib Dem leader is ‘taking a break’ after 40 years. Peter Phillips, outgoing Chair of the B Castle & Clun branch,established the branch in 1973 – the year he first stood for election as County Councillor. Subsequently—getting elected, usually, with a 2-to 1 majority—he went on to became a senior Councillor in the Shirehall, the first LD to be Vice-Chair (as he was in the S Shropshire District Council) and Leader of the Shropshire LibDems for ten years.

 ‘It really is time at least to take a break,’he smiled,’one is certainly not so energetic ay 66  as at  26!! And the branch is in very good heart. We now have 94 members,plus a host of supporters. Above all,we have won the respect and loyalty of our residents. This has been built on the hard work of our councillors and of our helpers.’

[since retiring as councillor, Mr Phillips has concentrated on building up LD membership in the Branch area…the Branch is now much the largest in the County;and Mr Phillips was presented with an award by Nick Clegg for being the Number One recruiter in the UK.]

……..AND  CHARLOTTE   TAKES  THE  CHAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

at their AGM, BC & Clun LD’s elected Cllr Charlotte Barnes their new Chair, with Cllr Heather Kidd as Minutes Secretary.

‘The strength of our support in the area is reflected in the calibre of my successors’,said Mr Phillips. Charlotte has his the ground  running as Councillor for  BC ; she has worked her socks off and won both affection and respect in her first 2 years. She has proved a fantastic councillor…and I am delighted-and somewhat awestruck-that she has the energy also to take on the Chair!’



 1 Charlotte Barnes was adopted as LD candidate to succeed Peter Phillips in 2011. She held her seat this year with a 62% vote.

 2 Peter Phillips was presented with an award by Nick Clegg for recruiting more new subscribers[139] last year then any other member.



Postman or MP? Ambulance response letter

Dear Sir/Madam


I do feel it is time that M.P. Philip Dunne actually DID something rather than just being a postman (just as Chris Gill was). My most recent, but not singular, experience actually concerns the life and death issue of ambulance response….Last December, Shropdoc called out a 999 ambulance to me. It took AN HOUR to arrive. It wasn’t a West Mids, but from Newtown – so grateful thanks to Cllrs Kidd and Hartin for pressing the cross-border agreement.

If it had been a heart attack, I should probably have died.

In response to my “complaint”, WMAS sent 2 pages of what had happened (I think I knew, more or less!) – and concluded that they were taking steps to improve matters.

This summer I wrote to our M.P. to see if he would use his authority to ensure steps WERE being taken. I specifically asked him NOT – as is his usual practice – simply to forward the WMAS letter I had had but to do something! After 2 months I nudged his PA to try and effect a response…When it arrived – you’ve guessed it! Postman Phil simply attached a copy of the letter I’d had in April!

Meanwhile, WMAS was in the local Press last month confessing it hadn’t enough vehicles to meet the need.

So death-by-waiting is increasingly likely. Hope Mr Dunne’s not one of them!


Peter Phillips

RESPONSE: The S Shropshire Journal will be happy to print your letter about ambulance response but not in this form as it is too partisan. Can I have your permission to do a re-write or will you ?

MY RESPONSE: This is a bit difficult: the issue IS a partisan one, as the MP is falling down on the job! I see yr note is 2 days old..sorry, I do not necessarily do IT every perhaps the thing has been sorted. I should be very unhappy at removing ‘partisan’ as that is part of it. Unsure how to criticise an MOP in a non partisan way! peter

Pensions: OAPs overseas


 May I urge you to support the Amendment by Roger Gale and Peter Bottomley on Tuesday.

 It is patently Unfair and Discriminatory that people who have paid the same contributions as everyone else should not have the same benefits. I doubt that a private pension company could get away with it !!

(If you retire abroad, in most countries, your UK state pension is frozen:it doesnt get the annual update. Yet our pensions are supposedly contribution, not residence-based. One who retired in 1986 at 65 would have a pension of £38.70. If he went to Canada,he would still be on that same £38.70. If he lives in the EU, it would now be £110.15,ie,the same as in the UK.)

 This is clearly an injustice so it is embarrassing to be outflanked by Tory MPs on it!

 Did you really say, ’It has been like that for decades…so we will not change it’?….(Hardly an argument for any reform of anything!


Thanks for the message. As you know, we clearly wouldn’t start from here, and if money wasn’t tight I suspect the Treasury would give us the £700m per year it would cost to fix it, but having been taking money off people on some very low incomes at home, it’s hard to argue that they are a lower priority than people who retired overseas generally in full knowledge of the rules when they decided to leave.  None of the parties are saying they will find the money to fix this at the moment, but clearly at some point it would be good to get this sorted.

Pensions: Foreign Spouses

The Tory Right and UKIP have created an offensive context of ‘bashing johnny foreigner’ from which I’d hope we would distance ourselves………………..YET these 2 measures are going through..?

 1 Widow(er)s of British OAPs who live overseas are to have their pensions stopped (remember,these have been earned by the same contributions as those who choose to stay in the UK) ..likely to be a growing concern,perhaps,for those of Afro-Asian descent;

 2 An overseas spouse will not be allowed to join the UK spouse unless the latter can show a minimum income f £18,000 (rules me out).  Is this compassionate and caring?

 Peter Phillips.