'Shrewsbury looks after itself': New Shropshire Council leader to look at county towns
The county's market towns need attention, not just Shrewsbury, Shropshire Council's new leader has said upon being officially appointed.
Peter Nutting was officially installed as the new leader of Shropshire Council at the authority's first a full meeting since the local elections – and took the opportunity to say a few words about his priorities for the coming years.
Among them, he told Shirehall's council chamber, was the economic development of the whole county, not simply Shrewsbury – comments which caused a stir among some political opponents.
Councillor Nutting, who also revealed the new make-up of the authority's ruling cabinet, said: "I want to drive the county forward.
"It's a great place and we need to make the most of it."
He said one of his key "themes" would be the economic development of the county which had to focus on the regions market towns.
"I know that people think everything goes to Shrewsbury but Shrewsbury I think looks after itself," he said.
Labour leader, and Castlefields and Ditherington councillor, Alan Mosley, objected to that, telling the council chamber: "I think that is inappropriate, we've got to pay attention to every area and every community."
He said one of the ways that should be done is by having a cabinet that represented every area – but, he said, Shrewsbury didn't have "truly proportionate" representation in Councillor Nutting's new cabinet, with only two of 10 members from the central county town.
But Councillor Nutting, who represents the Copthorne ward in Shrewsbury himself, said Councillor Mosley did "not need to worry".
"I care about Shrewsbury just as much as anyone" he said.
But, he said, Shrewsbury had seen a lot of development in terms of business, industry and housing in recent years – while other market towns in the county had not.
He said Shropshire Council also needed to listen more to town and parish councils to find out what they actually wanted, rather than simply saying the right things to placate them.
He also mentioned the planned high-speed rail link, saying: "HS2 will come right past Shropshire – we've got to make sure we do the best that we can to make the most of that."
He revealed he wanted to maintain three separate planning committees to cover the north, the south and central region, rather than merge them into one, as had been suggested under the previous administration.
He said another priority would be to pay more attention to looking after council staff so that they would want to work their best for the authority.
And he added that he would also focus on scrutiny at the council, with scrutiny panels covering the council's own performance as well as health matters.
He also said no decision had been taken regarding the future location of Shrewsbury's swimming pool.
"We will take our time and try to find a solution that suits everyone," he said.