Month: June 2013

Act now to protect Hodnet Fire Station

 

The Hodnet Fire Crew are appealing to everyone in the community to help them put forward the case for keeping the station open in the future.

In recent weeks both the national and local media have reported on the increasing pressure being put on fire and rescue services across the country to make savings, due to the need for the Government to reduce its spending. As we all know these spending cuts are hitting services of all types. In May this year Chief Fire Officer Paul Raymond warned that there were tough choices ahead for fire and rescue service in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. In an article posted here on the service’s website, he  warned that a further £1.6m cut in its budget was called for by central Government as part of its austerity programme. The article stated that fire station closures, fire-fighter redundancies and a possible merger with a neighbouring brigade are being considered among a list of 50 options to be explored over the next 12 months. In an open letter to staff Paul Raymond said,  “I still hope that the national economy will recover and the cuts to 2020 will be less than predicted. But we must still hope for the best and plan for the worst.”

Despite recent cuts of £3.2 million from its £20m annual budget resulting in a 10 per cent cut in fire-fighters and support staff, a 25 per cent reduction in senior officers along with streamlining all its services including cuts in successful community fire safety programmes, further savings are being called for. “None of these options are easy or desirable to deliver but they are the few remaining options we have left,” said Mr Raymond, who is asking staff for their “honest views” on the risk and impact of the latest proposed cuts.In his letter to staff he added,  “Only when we have a full picture of the impact of each change will the Fire Authority be in a position to make the difficult decisions in the early part of 2014 about which options should be taken out to the public for their views.”

Your Fire Station Needs YouHodnet’s Fire & Rescue Crew have been told that local stations have until the start of September to make the case for their services to be maintained and to show that they have support for this from the local community. This is why they are are appealing to local people to take action now and make their support for the station known. Following a recent house fire in Ollerton, a neighbouring resident has started a petition. It is hoped that copies will be placed in local shops, etc. but you can also download a PDF copy from here. Please encourage everyone you know to sign this petition. Please return all copies of signed petitions to the Fire Station (Station Road, Hodnet, TF9 3JD) by the end of July so the team can prepare their case for presentation to their management at the start of September.

You are also requested to send personal letters of support to the crew. You can do this either in writing to the above address or by emailing them. Below are some facts about our local station which may inspire you to write to them and perhaps as well to our local MP Owen Paterson (via this page on his website) and our local Councillor Karen Calder email.

Hodnet's Fire CrewSo what is special about Hodnet’s Fire & Rescue Team? First and foremost, they are local. They are also unique in at least two ways. First, and very importantly the team provides 100% emergency cover for fires, road accidents, etc. entirely from local recruits. That means 24 hour, 7 day a week, year round cover by local people who have committed themselves to being at the station within five minutes of being summoned in response to an emergency call. No other retained station county-wide has received this level of practical support from its community. Secondly, amongst its crew of 14 there are 3 female members.  Shropshire’s Fire & Rescue Service currently has a total of 8 female fire-fighters and no other station has so many amongst its team. Despite its high level of support from the community there are still two places unfilled in their quota and we are sure they would love to hear from anyone else (male or female) who would like to join them.

Retained fire crews also offer a massive saving for the service. The estimated cost of keeping a fire appliance ready-to-go with a full time crew is just below £1.3 million per year (including station costs, etc.) In 2012 Hodnet’s appliance cost just £115,000 to keep operational. However, rural stations are much more likely to be axed than those in towns with larger populations. Hodnet is relatively close to the stations in Market Drayton, Wem and Whitchurch so this makes it more vulnerable than stations in rural locations like Clun in the south of the county. (See here for a map of all Shropshire’s 23 Fire Stations.) Should Hodnet be closed, as Watch Manager Steve Palin states in the above video, this will mean increased response times to incidents in this area. An extra fifteen minutes could prove fatal in some cases. It may well be a case of support our local crew or lose them!

Please do all you can to support Hodnet’s Fire Station.

  • Download and print off a copy of the petition, encourage others to sign it, then return it by the end of July;
  • Write to the crew, Owen Paterson and Karen Calder informing them of the need to keep the station open.
  • Download, print off and display a copy of the poster prepared by the crew asking for support from the community.
  • The crew have also set up their own Facebook page which you can “like” them on.

Remember – whilst we all hope you never will, one day you may need them yourself!

Meet the crew

Hodnet Fire and Rescue Crew
Standing: Robert Fox, Will Rollo, Mike Moss, Ruth Walkerdine,
Robert Robinson & Steve Palin (Watch Manager);
Crouching: Clive France, Phil Benbow, Russel Wilcox, Sarah Cartwright,
Thomas Benbow & Richard Bradley;
Not present; Jenny Cranage & Jonathan Benbow

 

Hodnet Housing Development – Further Consultation Event

Strutt & Parker have contacted the Hodnet web-team with details of a further Consultation Event to consider revised proposals for the potential housing development to the rear of Shrewsbury Street.

The Event will take place between 6.00 and 8.00pm on Thursday 11th July at the Lyon Hall.

We have been sent an electronic version of their publicity poster. It states:

Taking on board comments received during the May consultation we have made amendments to the scheme and would like to hear local people’s opinion on the changes.

We therefore invite residents to join us for another consultation event to be held between 6.00pm and 8.00pm on Thursday 11th July at Lyon Hall, Hodnet.

Should we receive any further information about the changes to the proposals before the meeting, we will post them on the website.

In a separate development, Shropshire Council have announced here that on Wednesday 26th June the Cabinet would be considering “final recommendations for potential sites for new housing and employment land”. The Site Allocations and Management of Development Plan (SAMDev plan) proposes that there should be a third phase of public consultation beginning on 1 July. Providing it was approved at the meeting, the strategy will go out to public consultation from 1 July to 31 August 2013 with a view to approval by Cabinet of a final version of the plan by the end of 2013.

Again the web-team will post information about this consultation once we have them. In the meantime anyone wanting to more information on SAMDev should follow the links to the Cabinet papers and SAMDev section of the council’s website provided at the bottom of the page link above.

Permissive Path Opening

Over 20 people gathered on the evening of 11th June (2013) at the top end of Shropshire’s first permissive footpath which completes the pedestrian access route from Hodnet to Marchamley to hear the story of how the path came to be, and to see Councillor Karen Calder cut the ribbon and declare the path officially open.

Richard Underwood (Hodnet Parish Councillor and Hodnet Footpath Group member) opened proceedings by thanking everyone for coming along. He recalled the days after the opening of the bypass when the Parish Council wanted to build new roadside pavements to fill gaps in the existing provision so as to create safe pedestrian routes between Hodnet and its outlying settlements of Marchamley and Wollerton. The prohibitive costs of construction and land acquisition prevented further progress on this option, so the Council then considered another alternative – paths created behind the roadside hedges with the permission of the landowner.

No further progress was made on this until an opportunity arose to formally seek residents’ views on improving walking links between the main parish villages. The replies to the 2008 Parish Plan questionnaires showed clear support for such links, and when the Hodnet Footpath Group was formed shortly afterwards, it was asked to look into the matter further. An agreement in principle was soon reached with the landowner, John Powell, and the matter was then referred to Shropshire Council Outdoor Recreation team for legal advice and practical help. Next a questionnaire was issued by the Footpath Group to all households in Hodnet and Marchamley in order to gauge their support and expected use. 91% of responses were favourable, on both recreational and safety grounds.

In 2012 it was decided in principle to proceed with a proposal that Shropshire Council would build and maintain the path, Hodnet Parish Council would pay an annual rental for the land and Hodnet Footpath Group would help promote the use of the path. Matters were finalised early this year, the path was built this spring and already appears to be being well used.

Richard Underwood expressed thanks to local residents for completing questionnaires, to Richard Knight and Shropshire Council’s Outdoor Recreation Team for their support and practical help and finally he thanked John Powell for his kind co-operation in first agreeing to discuss the matter and then permitting the path to be built; “Without it we would not be standing here tonight.” Richard also promoted the Footpath Group’s walks leaflets, specifically Walk 3 which incorporates use of the new path.

Richard himself commented: “I’m very pleased to see this project come to fruition. It’s the culmination of many years’ work by many people – much of it behind the scenes, and essentially means that walking between the villages is now much safer. Taking a wider view, it means that Hodnet Parish Council have fulfilled another of the commitments made in the Parish Plan and it has also helped to establish the Hodnet Footpath Group. I am very grateful to all who have helped in bringing this path into being and hope that it will be well used, and perhaps provide a role model for other similar projects. If anyone wishes to join the Footpath Group, they’d be very welcome. See www.hodnet.org.uk/fpg for more details.”

Declaring the path open, Councillor Karen Calder said, “Congratulations should go to a very successful group which came out of the Parish Plan, that is the Pathways Group. They eventually succeeded in doing something which was thought aspirational but not really doable, but they have proven that it was doable just by thinking about it in a different way.”

Speaking afterwards, John Bourne (Hodnet Footpath Group Chairman) thought it was “gratifying to have been involved in something which achieved a result,” and Angie Lunt from Market Drayton Ramblers’ group said, “The path is good news for us. We walk round the area a lot and do evening walks in this vicinity. We are highly delighted that we can now make use of this footpath.”

Here are some photos of the event (please click on a thumbnail to enlarge them).

A new leaflet describing a walk which features the new path is available as a PDF file. Click here to download it.

Other leaflets and information on the Footpath Group can be found on their web page here.

Shropshire Rural Health Survey

Shropshire residents living in rural communities have been invited to take part in Shropshire’s Rural Health Survey.  Details were published here on the the Shropshire Newsroom website on Tuesday, 28 May.

The article states that representatives of GPs across the county, Shropshire Council and other bodies representing rural interests, are seeking views from people who live in Shropshire’s rural areas to help to improve and develop the things that affect them.  In particular, we want to hear about residents’ quality of life and the things that have affected their quality of life.

The results of the survey will be used for further research and analysis to help to make a positive difference to the lives of people living in rural areas in Shropshire.

An on-line verson of the survey, which should take around 10 minutes to complete is available at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/ShropshireRuralHealth.

Closing date for the survey is 31 July 2013.

Further information or a paper copy can be obtained by phoning 01743 252594.

Tributes at Parish Council Meeting

Chairman John Powell opened the Parish Council meeting on 16 May 2013 by paying tribute to former members of the Council. He said,

Hodnet has recently lost two of its great characters.

Let us remember Gerald Mothershaw, a Hodnet man born and bred, a champion vegetable grower, historian, author, and not least a Parish Councillor.

Phil Perry, also a man of the soil; and salt of the earth. Always ready with a suitable, (or maybe not so suitable) joke to lighten the mood, and who served on this Council.

He then asked members of the Council to stand for a moment’s reflection on the lives of these two men.

This meeting also saw the retirement from the Parish Council of a long standing member, Ann Taylor. Remembering when Ann was first appointed, John said,

1975 was a summer to remember. Not quite as hot as 76 but Ann Taylor was elected by fellow councillors to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Vic Trevor, on 16th July.

Looking at the minutes for this meeting we might in some ways think that times have not changed much. Heavy goods vehicles through the parish were discussed, and overhanging obstructions to a footpath. The proposed amended route for the new bypass was an agenda item ­- this was an earlier version, which of course never got anywhere. What was different was the precept for £800, and the clerk’s salary was increased to £170 per annum.

Ann has served this Parish since that time, with the exception of 3 years holiday due to a moment’s forgetfulness. Ann became my vice-chairman in 1992 and took over the chair in 1997 to see through the building of the bypass and its opening in 2003.

John concluded by thanking Ann on behalf of the Council for her tireless dedication to Hodnet, and presented her with a plant as a memento in recognition of her long service.

John Powell presents Ann Taylor with a plant in recognition of her service on the Parish Council
John Powell presents Ann Taylor with a plant