INTRODUCTION . Well, ‘instructions’ might be more accurate because this blog platform doesn’t make navigating around the articles easy. You can progress through the dates easily enough, but only sequentially by hitting 'More Posts' at the bottom of the page. If you’re looking to go back to an earlier month or year then you have to enter the month or year in the search section at the top of the page and hit your ‘Enter’ key. Likewise, if you want to avoid having to follow through sequentially and get to a later date then, again, enter that date in the search function and hit your ‘Enter’ key.

DECEMBER 2019. FORUM. (On apathy – again.)

It’s always interesting when the time to write these monthly ‘reports’ comes around because the deadline is a good two weeks ahead of when they appear, so the choice of what to write about is dictated by whether or not what I’m saying is still going to be current on publication day. Problem is, there’s only one thing current (apart from the B4555) that is anything like a main talking point and that’s politics. As far as “the council” is concerned that can be a tad problematic at this time because with a general election in the offing – and sensitivities heightened - just days from this report’s appearance I am constrained to be more diplomatic than is my usual wont! So, no names, no pack drill, as the old service saying goes. My politically independent status has proved invaluable in maintaining my sanity over the last few months of witnessing politician after politician recanting on views they had previously clung to, to the extent that I’m tempted now to rename my

NOVEMBER 2019. FORUM. (On symbolism in life.)

Excepting my RAF years from 1959 to 1965, I’ve been known to have a bit of an anti-Establishment “attitude”, doubtless because of a dry/wry sense of humour that has meant I’ve always had a bit of a job taking seriously people who take themselves too seriously, but I’ve nevertheless always respected the views of others who haven’t tried to thrust their views down either my throat or the throats of others. Sincerely held beliefs are just that, sincerely held beliefs and as such are deserving of respect unless they are extreme and impact adversely on the lives of others. I’m an atheist and have been for as long as I can remember, but I believe that religious principles are the basis of any civilised society and as such are central to the principles of democracy because they are the civic principles upon which an orderly society are based. Just as religious symbolism is important to the communicating of religious principles, so civic symbolism is important to the communicating

OCTOBER 2019. FORUM. (On the visit of Prof. John Whitelegg to Highley.)

Given the dire straits that Shropshire Council finds itself in with regard to central government revenue support funding it’s inevitable that “cuts” have to be made with competing priorities leading to controversial decisions, one of which has been the reduction in (and in some cases the complete removal of) funding for public transport, whether in the form of direct funding for ‘community buses’ or the subsidies paid to commercial operators to maintain commercial routes. It’s a contentious issue, particularly when it comes to support for post-16 transport of students wanting to pursue further education in whatever form it takes and whatever the desired outcome. We’re lucky in Highley because we have the 125 service bus running from Bridgnorth to Stourbridge at hourly intervals, but if you want to travel by bus to the cinema in the evening then hard luck, because the service ends at 6.30. And getting to the FE or Sixth-Form college of your choice will break most banks!


Not a lot to report or comment on this month because for some obscure reason everything “political” still closes down over August. A councillor friend said that he’d been in Shirehall earlier in the week (I’m writing this in mid-August) and reported that the place was “like the wreck of the Hesperus”. The ‘Marie Celeste’ might have been a more accurate comparison. I suppose I can understand Parliament at Westminster shutting down to allow MPs to spend time in their constituencies, but at a local level it always seems a bit of a faff because it’s not as if local councillors spend days stuck in committees or attending rounds of meetings, as I explained in last month’s report all that is a thing of the past since the Cabinet system was introduced in 2009. The concerns of our town or parish constituents don’t go away for a month so council officers are still in post to keep the wheels turning, although with the increasing tendency to promote “flexible” working trying to f

AUGUST 2019. FORUM. (On the CCG – again – and scrutiny – again…)

The turnout at the public meeting of the Highley Patients Group on July 16 was a testament to the concerns of the community regarding the way local GP practices are changing so having Dr Allen there to explain the wider GP scene was good, not least because it brought home that change is happening because it is having to happen, and that it doesn’t just affect Highley but Shropshire, and in fact the UK generally. I’ve been following the local county health scene since I was first elected in 2013, in fact the first external meeting I ever attended was the AGM of the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG – local clinicians who commission all health services in the county) in Oswestry, subsequently attending numerous meetings in the first few of years of ‘Future Fit’, which turned out to be little more than an endless round of “consultation” about the future shape of healthcare in the county. I was frustrated because the CCG was trying to please everyone and failing on all c

JULY 2019. FORUM. (On the work to the only major-ish road in and out of Highley, the B4555.)

It’s been a funny old month but I’m not laughing after the bone-shaking drive on the first seven miles of the 30 miles to Abbey Foregate. Newcomers to Highley have it in their heads that no-one has done a thing to improve the situation. As newcomers they won’t know about a recorded history of at least four generations, discovered by Mandy Burgess who found letters to the Bridgnorth Journal from ‘citizens’, businessmen/farmers, even local councillors, complaining about the state of the Highley/Bridgnorth road back in the day when it didn’t even have the number we all now know and love it by, the B-four-triple five. Geology and geography is our problem, not helped by a self-perception that militates against any serious consideration of Highley as a viable place in which to invest the kind of money it would take to bring our road up to a usable state, let alone a decent one. In terms of geology? Well, you don’t need me to tell you about the problems on the New Road. I