Consulting on Shropshire's future

Shropshire Council draft community and rural strategy has been impacted by significant flooding and the coronavirus pandemic - which has highlighted how effectively community response is in the county.

The year has also raised fears about the possibility of a recession, and how Shropshire would cope, the draft strategy says.

Now the council is inviting feedback on a draft strategy, setting out shared priorities for the future.

Work began in 2019 with workshops held across the county to consider the issues most important to communities.

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services said: “Since starting work on the strategy, Shropshire has seen significant flooding and the coronavirus pandemic. These events have had considerable social and economic impacts, but they have also highlighted how effectively local communities have responded to provide the right type of support and services where they are most needed across the county.

“Inclusivity across the whole county is the key message, whether rural or urban .”

The draft strategy highlights that in a large rural area, connectivity is vital to provide access to education, employment and leisure, shopping and health and care.

"This relates to both physical connectivity through highways and transport and digital connectivity through broadband and mobile phones. It is a key enabler for the economy and influences where people can live, particularly if they do not have access to a car," the draft says.

"Good digital connectivity provides businesses with the opportunity to operate in different areas of the county, employees to work from home, and during the coronavirus lockdown it has enabled school pupils

to carry-on learning at home. An issue that has come more into focus for pupils during the lockdown period is digital poverty, where families may not have had digital devices for children to use for lessons and

school work at home. "

Access to affordable housing is another priority particularly in rural areas.

"This can lead to situations where young people who grew up in communities move away to find a home that they can afford, and sees rural populations get older as a result," it says.

Issues that have been raised during the pandemic range from the diversion of funding into coronavirus grants to the possibility of a recession and how the county will cope.

The consultation is open for eight weeks until December 6. All feedback will be considered, and any changes proposed, to allow a final document to be formally agreed by Shropshire Council’s Cabinet in early 2021.

More details are available from shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved/community-and-rural-strategy-2020.

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