(Albrighton, Boningale, Donington-with-Boscobel and Tong)

Firstly thank you to all the many people who came to speak to us at our stall at the Fayre and renewed their membership and those who joined for the first time.

Progress Report: Albrighton Station Pedestrian Access Ramp
BACKGROUND. Following a successful campaign, supported by a petition signed by more than 1700 people, Network Rail were persuaded to leave this access ramp in situ rather than to demolish it. The ramp provides an alternative direct access to Platform 1 for Wolverhampton bound trains avoiding the need to cross the pedestrian footbridge with 4 flights of stairs from Platform. Strongly supported by our local MP Mark Pritchard, meetings have been held between the relevant parties and a Ramp Team consisting of representatives of the four Parish Councils and the Civic Society was established to liaise with non local parties – including Network Rail (NR), London Midland (LM), EE and Shropshire Council (SC).
Heads of Agreement have now been drafted by the Ramp Team, which when implemented should secure the long term future of the ramp for the benefit of rail users. The Heads of Agreement will require vetting and the approval of the respective lawyers to each of the parties.

1 The landowners EE (the telecommunications group) and Network Rail will transfer the ramp land to a local consortium of Parish Councils led by Albrighton Parish Council. The price will be nominal (£1 for each piece of ramp land i.e. £2 in total ).
2 London Midland the train operator (and any successive train operator under future franchises) will enter into an operational maintenance agreement to undertake routine maintenance of the ramp, as they do for the station, to ensure it is safe to use eg keeping clean & salting & gritting in winter.
3 Network Rail will at its expense (over £30,000) install a modern LED lighting system to ensure safe use of the ramp when lighting is required. London Midland has agreed to cover the cost of the electricity supply.
1 Shropshire Council to undertake road and footpath safety works in Station Road to ensure that the access to the foot of the ramp is safe to use. A scheme has been agreed in principle and budget funds of £40,000 have been set aside by Shropshire Council to cover the cost of these works. The timescale is delayed until autumn 2016 as Network Rail plan to replace the rail-over-road bridge in the summer of 2016 and these works must be completed before the Shropshire Council’s safety works can commence.
2 A risk assessment must be carried out to ensure that the consortium of Parish Councils is able to obtain Public Liability Insurance at a reasonable cost to cover the operation and use of the ramp.

We are grateful to NR’s generous offer to pay for and install new lighting along the ramp and for LM’s agreement to pay for the electric supply. We are similarly fortunate that Shropshire Councillor Malcolm Pate has got SC’s agreement to transfer the allocated funding for the footpath works in Station Rd to the following year and we thank him and SC for their generosity with that. The Ramp Team is now in discussion with NR seeking a definite date when bridge works will take place (this had originally been planned for 2013 but that didn’t happen and so we are keen that a fixed timetable is in place).
At the Albrighton Parish Council meeting on 16th July there was a majority vote to accept the ownership of the ramp, as lead council of the Consortium of Parish Councils (subject to a risk assessment and insurance cover).


The future of Albrighton Library and Albrighton Swimming Pool
At the Local joint committee meeting on 8th July in the Red House Neil Wilcox, Libraries Manager of SC said that the Council had to reduce its libraries budget, and must hand on responsibility to other organisations: all options are open from selling up and moving somewhere else, to staying put under the aegis of some unspecified community group, though the Parish Council or a consortium of the four Parish Councils is possible. He quoted two examples of towns where this has already happened with good (?) results (Wenlock and Craven Arms). A member of the audience said that the latter is now a disaster – a corridor library with no reference section (one dictionary only). He said that there are 22 libraries and four mobiles (one serves Cosford); the cost of Albrighton was £26,000pa plus 36% SC overheads. It is a reducing service – 1378 members down to 1066, in 2013/4 and 37,000 loans down to 26,000 per year. Costs could be reduced by shortening the opening hours.
He promised an Open Day to enable a wider discussion of potential alternatives which was held on 30th July at the Library. This was a date in the holiday period, and without much notice, so may not have been suitable for everyone, nor give community groups time to discuss options for the future. We believe that this meeting should have been at a later date, and be well publicised, so giving time for local people to consider the issues. Perhaps the other functions of the library in addition to book loans should be taken into account such as:-  exhibitions of local interest (eg the Civic Society’s children’ arts competition, Historical Society displays and archive, Readers’ Group, People’s Network computers (4 No.) with a printer and scanner, Special Public Telephone direct to Shrewsbury Council Customer services, Resources for use with dementia sufferers which can be borrowed for a longer period than normal, Story time for adults, Rhyme times for toddlers and a reading group (and also supply of books for several other non-library reading groups), Holiday Activities for Children – including the annual ‘Summer Reading Challenge’ – library often has Narinder Dhami, the local author, presenting medals to a library full of children.
Perhaps the library could be discussed at our Public Meeting on 12th October?

Swimming Pool, Newhouse Lane School. At the same meeting SC’s agenda stated: “Future funding for Albrighton’s swimming pool will be reduced over forthcoming years. The Head Teacher at the Newhouse Lane site is very concerned about the impact this will have on the school’s budget and the future sustainability of the pool and feels that we need to start to look at how the pool can survive into the future. As this is an important facility for the village, the parish council intend to hold a meeting between the school, the Swimming Pool Committee and any other interested parties at the end of the swimming season this year, to see how to best move forward in supporting the school to retain this important facility.
Perhaps this matter could also be discussed at our Public Meeting on 12th October?

Eyesores. The new campaign led by Bob Hickson and Peter Leigh has begun with a list of the main eyesores which we will bring to the attention of the councils/owners so if anyone has an eyesore which they wish us to add to our list please contact us. (Bob Hickson T: 373181). A walk around Albrighton with Steve Brown of SC is being arranged for 14th August so we can show him the main issues such as potholes and bad road surfaces, benches needing refurbishment etc.
Ex Barclays Bank Building (Station Rd). After our tracking down the owners they promised to re- start the building work and complete the conversion to residential use. However their promised start date has now passed and so we will contact them again.

We are holding our next PUBLIC MEETING (& AGM)
at the Red House at 7pm on Monday 12th October
so please put this in your diary and come to hear updates and support us. All are welcome.

For more information about the Society please see
www     or contact:
Peter Woodman –Chairman (T: 372225) 31/32 High St  or Rod Smith -Secretary (T: 372765)