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Shropshire Council U-turn on High Street

Published: 5th January, 2012




The Southern Area Planning Committee of Shropshire Council decided this week to overturn the decision it took at its last meeting in October to proceed with the pavement widening of Church Stretton High Street. In doing so, the Committee rejected the recommendation to proceed from its own Transport Planning Officers, who have been researching and consulting on the possible options for the last four years. The Committee decided to take account of the last minute anti-campaign, based on partial and misleading information, rather than the repeated recommendations of the Town Council, based on the majority view from previous formal public consultations and its own researches, of the beneficial impact on trade in every other market town of improving pedestrian accessibility. The decision also flies in the face of the key recommendation in the recent national report by Mary Portas of the importance of improving pedestrian accessibility, if High Street shops are to survive.

The Town Council is pleased that the Committee recognised that the inaccessibility of the High Street remains to be addressed, especially in view of the increasing number of elderly disabled residents in the town. However, it is puzzling that the majority on the Committee should now favour a complete one-way system for the whole town centre. This is puzzling on two counts. Firstly, because only a minority of residents and traders backed the one-way option, when just for the High Street. Secondly, four years ago, Shropshire Council's own officers ruled out the now-favoured one-way option for the whole town centre on the grounds of excessive cost!

In the light of the Committee's stance, the Town Council will open discussions with Shropshire Council on if and when the Committee's preferred alternative option can be financed by Shropshire Council, before launching any other local consultation.

Given Shropshire Council's likely answer, that will allow ample time for the wounds to heal from this divisive but still unfinished business. The Town Council is very aware that strong emotions have been aroused on both sides of the argument. Now the democratic decision has finally been taken, the Town Council's over-riding priority is to help heal those wounds and encourage both traders and residents to resume supporting each other in the way that has always helped this town to flourish in the past.

However, there remains the risk, as officers have warned, that Shropshire Council may have opened itself to legal challenge by contravening the Equality Act 2010, by not using earmarked funding to benefit disadvantaged residents.

Cllr Bob Welch, Town Mayor, commented: "The new Localism Act 2011cannot be implemented quickly enough, ensuring that, in future, local decisions should be taken by local town councillors. This Shropshire Council decision will disadvantage our increasing number of disabled residents for another generation at least and leave the town at a competitive disadvantage to all the other market towns in the county, which have already benefited from this Shropshire Council funding."

For more information, please contact either:

Christine Harvey, Town Clerk, Church Stretton Town Council 01694 722113


or: Cllr. Bob Welch, Mayor, Church Stretton Town Council,

01694 722998 or 0797 080 7116 email