Keith Barrow, leader of Conservative-run Shropshire, has spoken:
“There will be no council tax increases in Shropshire over the next two years and, in 2013, council tax will go down to the lowest level in Shropshire."I'm not sure I understand the second half of that sentence, but then Mr Barrow seems to have problems with expressing himself. "I cannot understate the size of the journey we have in front of us, nor the hurdles that we will encounter along the way," he says later in the same press release.
What is clear is that Shropshire Tories' macho determination to freeze Council Tax is having serious effects on the quality of life in the county over and above the pressures caused by the cut in its grant from central government.
One example of this are the plans to close nine schools in the county - mainly village primary schools. The video above is the latest move in the campaign to save one of them: Stiperstones Primary School.
Peter Phillips is the Liberal Democrat councillor for Bishop's Castle - I bought a book of his poems last time I was in his ward. He told the Shropshire Star:
Shropshire’s primary numbers bottom out this year and will then gently rise. It is difficult to understand why the myth of falling primary numbers has persisted — it is untrue.The same newspaper story reports that children from the threatened primary school at Onibury, which has been deemed to be satisfactory, are being offered places at Stokesay, which has been served with a notice to improve.
“The savings are purely and demonstrably speculative. They remain unknown until a school has actually been closed, and there is a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that ‘collateral damage’ generates much additional cost not only to the council but to other public bodies and the community.”
If all the Conservative talk of the Big Society and empowering local communities means anything, then the council will overturn this decision or the government will grant parents the powers to force them to overturn it. In many ways Shropshire is a litmus test of the sincerity of Cameroon Conservatism.