Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Is this why the young are revolting?

Young people are demonstrating again today, locally in Bristol and in London.

It is clear that young people are justifiably angry at the broken promises of politicians, it is clearly unwise for politicians to make pledges to students before elections and after change their minds.

For example, the likes of Vince Cable who signed the students pledge not to increase student fees, then stated earlier in the week that the coalition agreement was more binding on him then pledges to the electorate, to this week to him being the secretary of state introducing the increases to tuition fees up to £9,000 saying he may not vote for his Bill, but he may abstain for Lib Dem unity. A pointless technicality, as the Tories votes will win the day.

The Coalition governments proposal to cut the Educational Maintenance Allowance which is a means tested allowance of between £10 and £30 to keep lower income families in further education, families with joint incomes of under £30,000 could apply.

This allowance gives young people an opportunity to broaden their outlook on life, offering broader educational opportunities, so this cut will have a direct impact on the aspirations of poorer families. For more details http://saveema.co.uk/

But if we look at the cuts made by the Tory County Council will see 75% cuts in Youth provision in Somerset this means youth clubs and youth workers disapearing with 50% cuts in bus sudsidies and as there are so few services that are profitable and Shepton does not have direct buses to Bath, Bristol.

Are we entering a new era of young motivated people, politicised not willing to be grateful for what they receive, or a passing moment? Time will tell.

Monday, 29 November 2010

El classico

I just spent an enjoyable evening watching Barcelona beat Real Madrid 5-0, Barca play what the Dutch called total football, pass move, cute triangular passing an absolute joy to watch. Nine of the eleven players that finished the game came from Barca's academy, those players understand the philosophy of the club and play accordingly.

Barca is a members club, something I hope all football clubs become.

Keeping the footballing message going, to paraphrase Brian Clough - you can play any formation you like, but if you don't have the players, you won't win anything.

This little message is good for anything in life, if you don't pull together then you'll hang apart.

I sometimes think Shepton fails to understand this; like the appeal made to renovate the Market Cross, for me a none controversial little appeal made by the Shepton Mallet Market Cross trustees, I would of thought this could be supported by everyone.

The wider point is that the renovation of the Market Cross will need all the partners to contribute, but every penny raised by the public appeal will count as matched funding and a sign of community support.

I attended a meeting in June 2006 to discuss the Market Cross, English Heritage took three years to give permission for the works to be carried out on the Market Cross, but as stated English Heritage through the lottery bid now seem a little less helpful.

As an on looker, I hope the public fundraising appeal raises a lot of money, but all those in charge of the Market Cross needs to come forward to all funding partners with the budget to renovate the Cross.

The other point raised when talking about the appeal was the Town Council's capital fund of £220K.

This from the sale of Great Ostry office.

The previous clerk Brian White used to say 'Chris, remember you can only spend a pound once'

This debate around how the Town Council takes Shepton forward has been largely ducked for the previous four years, At a crossroad plan focused on a Community facility, High Street regeneration and Links.

There seems to be a split at the Town Council on spending this capital budget;
  • Some want to build a Town Hall/Community facility - there seems two different locations for this facility, a) Commercial Rd Car Park and b) convert and extend the toilet block in Collett Park yard, including refurbish, public toilets in the park
  • Use capital sum to use for sporting club in the Town
  • Some councillors talk about smaller schemes such as use for the Market Cross, pedestrian crossing outside schools.

These are the debates that will be held before the Council before the May elections.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

24 hours to save our

Readers will remember on the 2 November my blog made reference to the condition of our Market Cross, it would appear that English Heritage has now given permission to works to be carried out on the monument.

It looks like it is going to take about £100,000 to restore the Market Cross, no one could dispute this is Shepton's iconic feature, the truth is there is not the money available to restore it today.

At the last Tuesday night planning meeting, Mrs Jeanette Marsh, Chairman of the Council told councillors that she with a local person was going to approach the BBC's 'Turn Back Time' production team to make a financial appeal to help raise the cash required to repair the Market Cross.

The Market Cross has it's own trustees, with Mr. Neil Shearn being the Shepton Mallet Market Cross Charity 236427 Chairman who is sponsoring the appeal.

I am pleased Mrs Marsh has asked me to publicise the appeal for funds, and through this blog to give contact details of those you could donate monies if you wish, to help save Shepton's iconic Market Cross.

You can contact Neil Shearn, Chairman, Shepton Mallet Market Cross Charity, 2 Charlton road Shepton Mallet, BA4 5NY, telephone 01749 342763 or
Mrs Jeanette Marsh, Chairman, Shepton Mallet Town Council, 1 Park road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BS

If you would like to make a difference and feel you could help, then your financial support would be welcome.

The Town is to hold a celebration party on the 3 December and there will be an appeal there also.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


I attended this years remembrance service at the cenotaph, the sky was heavy and the service conducted in quite heavy rain, this did not deter Sheptonians who attended in my eye in larger numbers than last year.

This week, I have another meeting to discuss the landscaping scheme around our cenotaph, we will be hoping to appoint a contractor to do the work, so next year, the works can be completed.

I am sure when the new pathing is laid and the new planting is made, this will enhance our cenotaph. The conservation departments at the County Council and the District Council have required the Town council to use the highest quality materials, this has made the project more expensive than first thought. It is right that high quality materials should be used to enhance our cenotaph.

The enhancement is to be paid from section 106 Tesco money (agreed with Mendip Council) and from Town Council budgets.

The Town councillors are trustees of the cenotaph, we continue to budget for the maintenance of the cenotaph and work with the 'friends of the cenotaph' to keep the memorial in good condition.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

What's the cost?

I was reading another blog regarding the changes to the cost of affordable housing in the future.

The blogger was a Bristolstolian. http://www.labourlist.org/social-housing-is-dead often we here how these changes effect people in the cities, but these changes to affordable rents will cause real difficulty to people in our part of Somerset.

I have written before about the huge 60% cut in the capital grant for new affordable housing outlined by the new coalition government for the coming period.

Having conducted a little research it would appear the 'Market rent' here in Mendip are;
  • 1 bedroom property = £108 per week
  • 2 bedroom property = £142 per week
  • 3 bedroom property = £185 per week
  • 4 bedroom property = £229 per week

The new coalition governments policy is for housing associations to generate their own cash to build new 'affordable' homes, this term affordable appears to mean 80% of the market rent.

So in the Mendip District, Flourish homes, a part of the Aster Group, are the largest supplier of affordable housing, there is no council housing.

Flourish home rents are published as;

  • 1 bedroom property= £68.47 a week
  • 2 bedroom property= £75.65 a week
  • 3 bedroom property= £86.80 a week
  • 4+ bedroom property= £97.52 a week

This does not include existing tenants of housing associations, as they remain on existing renting arrangements, but as soon as housing assocations properties become available, new tenants will paid at the new 'affordable' rents and they will be;

  • 1 bedroom property= £86 an increase of over £17 a week
  • 2 bedroom property= £114 an increase of over £28 a week
  • 3 bedroom property= £148 an increase of over £62 a week
  • 4 bedroom property= £183 an increase of over £86 a week

This to be coupled with the permanent tenancy for life to be ended, so higher rents with less housing rights.

This weekend I note the Bishop of Bath and Wells speaking out about his concerns of the rural communities becoming more impoverished http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-11700917, he stated that ending council housing for life will be a real problem in rural areas, he is right as there is not the availability of housing for people to move onto.

The other point he makes is if you want to create the 'big society' people need to feel secure to contribute in their communities, I want to live in a 'good society', not social attitudes from a victorian view of social housing and welfare.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Unfortunate Clash

Tonight Town Council meeting was unfortunate to clash with the Turn Back Time series filmed in Shepton, as leaving the meeting in time for the show seemed to set the agenda for the meeting.

Lets deal with the positives, the Television show was most interesting and it was great to see Sheptonians on the TV.

I understand the street party was well received, unfortunately not finishing work until 5.30pm and having a meeting at 6pm, left me no time to attend, which from my perspective didn't seem fair, but that's life!

So to the Council meeting, Myself and Councillor John Gilham proposed £500 to spend on Turn Back Time street events, this was defeated, but at least the Town Council grant aided the Victorian street event £250 to pay for the two performing bands. I pointed out that we need to increase footfall in the Town Centre and events are a good way of achieving this.

I was surprised the way the Chairman handled Cllr Kennedy's appearance at the Council meeting, she ruled that Allotments were not on the agenda and curtailed his address to the Town Council, OK fine, but then surprisingly she allowed Cllr Terry Marsh to offer Cllr Kennedy advice, I tried to point out the inconsistency of her approach, but was told I had said enough.

I was not happy the way the precept (council budget) is being handled this year, tonight the Chairman and Cllr Parham tried to pass a piecemeal part of the precept, at the same time trying to make decisions ahead of other spending commitments that clash with budget heading they were asking us to agree, I abstained on this sorry matter.

Give us the full details and then we can agree the whole budget, but be assured this matter will be decided by the portfolio holders and be further assured that any dissenting view points will not be allowed in January.

I called for the Chief Executive from Mendip Council to get involved with English Heritage in a push in restoring our Market Cross, this has been going on for over three years, how much longer can this neglect go on!

We have now received the bids to enhance the Cenotaph, there is still work to do on the bids and we will meet again in a fortnight to discuss further.