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Shropshire Council criticised for key services silence

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Shropshire Council has come under fire amid claims it failed to directly inform town and parish authorities they will get another year to come up with ways to fund key services.

Councillor Ralph Cooper, chairman of Weston Rhyn Parish Council, said he found out about the news by reading it in the Shropshire Star and had received no communication from Shirehall.

It comes after Councillor Malcolm Pate, leader of Shropshire Council, announced there would be an extension of up to 12 months for councils and organisations to look into taking on closure-threatened services such as libraries and leisure centres.

In an unexpected twist Councillor Pate said "a little bit of money" had been found in the local authority's budgets to allow towns and parishes more time to plan.

Previously the smaller councils had been told they had to come up with alternative suggestions for how services might be funded in the future by September, as Shropshire Council planned to cut budgets for such services to zero from April 2017.

Councillor Cooper said: “We’ve had absolutely no notification from Shropshire Council. They just don’t communicate with us.

"I'm afraid Shropshire Council is being run by amateurs, not business people. For the last five or so years it's been run badly.

"If you're in business, you would not freeze council tax for all those years while wages and everything else goes up. That's why they're in the mess they're in now.

"They talk about cuts and redundancies they're having to make but they're also talking about new computer systems. Who will be using them? There won't be any staff.

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"We've got more than 70 county councillors. Why don't we get rid of some of them?"

At this week's meeting of the parish council, members decided they would not take on the running of play areas in the village.

In May Roger Dyke, clerk of Weston Rhyn Parish Council, had written a letter on behalf of the parish council to the authority's chief executive Clive Wright, declaring they have recorded a vote of no confidence in Shropshire Council and their elected representatives Councillor David Lloyd and Councillor Robert Macey.

Mayor of Oswestry Councillor Paul Milner also said Oswestry Town Council had not been made aware of the extension.

He said: "We've yet to be notified of the decision made by Shropshire Council and what it may mean but our commitment remains to working with them to look for solutions to help their financial position."

Last month Oswestry Town Council indicated it would not be taking on the running of the town's closure-threatened library and leisure centre.

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