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

Civic Society Main Aim:
To improve the appearance of our villages and the quality of life within them.

Campaign to Retain the Pedestrian Ramp to the Station
We are pleased that Shropshire Council (SC) has now provided a copy of the updated drawing of the scheme for the new footpath in Station Rd and the Ramp Team has met, discussed it and forwarded a few minor comments to SC who will now organise a public consultation.
(Note. The “Ramp Team” was formed to liaise with the other parties and is made up of representatives of the Parish Councils and the Civic Society)

Public Meeting and AGM held on 12th October 2015
Firstly many thanks to everyone who came to the meeting and for participating in the lively discussions.
Thanks to David Thompson for bringing his brief presentation summary of proposed Development East of Shaw Lane which was a bonus to the agenda. This was met with much interest and many questions were asked and suggestions put forward by several in the audience (perhaps this topic could be the focus of another public meeting?)
The first part of the meeting was the Society’s AGM when the Chairman summarised our activities during the year and then the Treasurer presented the accounts and invited questions. Each year our Constitution requires that all members and officers of the Committee stand down and that an election is held for a new committee when previous members may also stand again. There were fewer nominations than places so all who were nominated were elected un-opposed and were as follows:- Chairman – Peter Woodman, Secretary – Rod Smith, Treasurer – Mike Pitchford, committee members – John Bulmer, Bob Hickson, Ron Kidson and Peter Leigh. We would be interested to hear from anyone who could provide active help and who would be willing to join the committee. The Society also provides 4 places for ex-officio members nominated by each of the four parish councils:- Mike Ward – Albrighton, Dave Thomas –Boningale, David Beechey – Donington-with-Boscobel. A place is open for Tong PC but they currently do not provide anyone.
The main items of the meeting were to discuss two significant assets of the village which are under threat of closure. We invited Shropshire Council Chairman Malcolm Pate to chair this part of the meeting and we are grateful that he accepted.

The Future of Albrighton Library
Clr Pate said that he had previously been told by Shropshire Council that the library would not close but he said that unfortunately this position had now changed. We welcomed Chris Edwards, Area Commissioner Shropshire Council, who presented the council’s proposals for changing the way the Library is operated. He stated that the Council has to find cost savings of £80million between 2014 & 2017 and a further £44million by 2019/20 which has necessitated a new look at all services including the Library Service. The two choices are a) for the Library to be run by a local organisation, with key support services still provided and paid for by Shropshire Council or b) the Library hours to be reduced (some in the audience noted after the meeting that this is most likely to eventually lead to closure). He reported that the open day and consultation which took place in the summer provided some interesting results:-
i) There seems to be a will in Albrighton to look at new ways of operating the Library and establishing a community hub,
ii) Albrighton and Donington parish councils should consider supporting running costs,
iii) Reinvigorate a “Friends or Community Group” to be involved in supporting the Library’s future
iv) that Albrighton Parish Council reconsider the idea of relocating the Parish Office to the front part of the Library building.
Shropshire Council is committed to commission library services locally via parish councils or community groups and there is government funding available for adaptations to the building to create the parish office – but this funding is only available until end of March 2016!
Clr David Beechey then presented figures to illustrate what the approximate extra cost to the two parish councils is likely to be based on Shropshire Councils figure of £26k per year running costs. If the councils share the costs, at the often used ratio of about 2/3 Albrighton and 1/3 Donington, and IF Albrighton Parish Council moved its office to the Library then the extra cost in council tax  would be about £7 per year for each household.
The Chairman asked for a show of hands, as a straw poll as an indicator of the audience’s reaction, to that proposal. There was, in the words of the Chairman, an almost unanimous response to accept such an extra cost. A similar show of hands on whether the Albrighton Parish Council should move its office from the upstairs room in the Red House to the Library was similarly accepted with an almost unanimous response.
A speaker said that Albrighton Parish Council’s element of the council tax is one of the lowest for all villages in Shropshire and has not been increased for several years

The Future of the Swimming Pool (Newhouse Lane School)
Clr Pate had called a meeting on 6th October at the school, attended by representatives of Shropshire Council (Chris Edwards and Andrea McWilliams) Clr M Pate, Chairmen and Clerks of the Parish Councils of Albrighton and Donington-with-Boscobel, Albrighton Primary School (Governor, Head, Finance Officer and Caretaker), Swimming Club (Chairman and Treasurer) and the Civic Society (Secretary). Only the approximate costs were available for: - running the pool by the school and the income/costs of operating the Swimming Club – these are to be firmed up prior the next meeting of this group on 3rd November 2015.

At the Public Meeting Clr Pate outlined the situation whereby the funding received by the school is to be cut which would then mean the pool would close unless funding from another source could be found. Rod Smith then showed a slide to illustrate what the approximate extra cost to the two parish councils is likely to be based on the likely running cost of approx £9k. This, of course, would be matter for the councils but said it may be useful to know the approx costs. If the councils share the costs at the often used ratio of about 2/3 Albrighton and 1/3 Donington then the extra cost in council tax would be less than about  £2 per year for each household.
The Chairman asked for a show of hands as a straw poll as an indicator of the audience’s reaction to that proposal. There was an almost unanimous response to accept such an extra cost.
Rod Smith noted that Albrighton Primary School used the pool in term time for 5 afternoons (2 hrs each) per week and that every morning the heated pool is un-used and suggested that perhaps other schools, or other organisations, in the area could be invited to use the pool then which would bring in some revenue. St Mary’s Primary School send their children to Codsall Pool, Staffordshire County Council..

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