#84: County Councillor’s Report in the August edition of the Highley ‘Forum’.

By the time this report appears the work on the B4555 (Bridgnorth/Highley road) will hopefully have been completed and, if indications at the time of writing this are anything to go by, it will have been worth the major hassle the unpredictable road closures have caused. I’m offering a not-so-silent prayer that for a few years at least our tyres may now see out their normal service life!

But what a ridiculous fight it’s been with Shropshire Council highways going out of their way to be obstructive in the most patronising way imaginable. They have consistently denied there was a problem – when they’ve bothered to respond at all – insisting on their absolute right to deny that what WE were experiencing on a daily basis was not, in their “professional opinion”, an issue worth investigating let alone doing something about.

I was subsequently taken to task by the current highways portfolio holder, Deputy Council Leader Steve Charmley (who is expecting the rest of us to find several tens of millions of pounds to pay for the North West Relief Road that feeds into his council patch of Oswestry), although the experience was a bit like being savaged by a dead sheep. In his response he deliberately managed to completely miss the point. Pretty pathetic way of going about things. The whole point of my campaign being that Shropshire Council highways had arrogantly ignored local representations and then lied, dismissing the detailed submissions of myself and local parish clerks out of hand.

But the highways stuff is relatively small beer when you consider all the other changes that are now in place at what used to be referred to as “Shirehall”, a place that now exists in name only, where the business of responding to community representatives hardly figures. It is no longer a “shire hall” in the sense of its being a civic centre where the people elected by the people of Shropshire do the business of running the county on behalf of that electorate, the process otherwise known (or used to be known, although it’s now a foreign concept) as democratic governance. The council is now managed by its directors of service according to how they see fit, the consequences of which we’ve seen in the way the council highways department is run, according to how THEY think it should be run to give us what they think we really need, forget what we WANT and which we pay for!

Years ago (a lot of years ago!) I was in Carvers, the Wolverhampton-based builders merchants, ordering a special connector for a bidet that a customer insisted they wanted in an en suite, and found myself in argument with the guy serving me who had no idea what I was talking about, despite my showing him a picture of the item. He insisted no such part existed and wouldn’t even check his inventory. He was insisting I just didn’t fit the bidet. So I asked him how much he was paying me for this visit.

“Well, nothing, you’re paying us!”

‘Right, that’s established the basis of this COMMERCIAL relationship. Care to reconsider?’

At which point a female colleague of his who had overheard the exchange stepped in and within a couple of minutes returned with the part.

That’s all I’m expecting from Shropshire Council – at the very least acknowledgement of the basis of a relatively simple commercial relationship – on behalf of the people who pay their wages, the very minimum you lot have every right to expect for your money.

Dave Tremellen.

18 July 2021