Shropshire Star comment: Beautiful county a real cash cow
Whatever lies ahead for the economy in coming months and years, there is something that Shropshire can count on as a potential money spinner.
And the beauty of it is that it is a gift passed down from generation to generation.
What is it? It is the heritage and landscape of this varied, historic and beautiful county. Cashing in requires the county playing its collective cards right, and not doing anything to detract from the lure of these jewels, which bring in so many thousands of visitors each year, spending their time here and, more importantly from the point of view of the economy, their money.
Do nothing, and you will still get a profit. Shropshire’s great outdoors will not suddenly disappear. There is an alternative to doing nothing and counting the incoming cash. It is to do something – spend and invest in these gems, to make them the best that they can be, and make the return from them the best that it can be.
Shropshire Council has a 10-year plan which aims to increase the return by a quarter, to £125 million. It will do this by getting more people to use Shropshire’s green spaces, rights of way, and other access across the county.
Among ideas are a watersports centre at The Mere, Ellesmere, to bring more leisure pursuits along the River Severn and the county’s canals, and also to create a cycling centre on the Dudmaston estate, near Bridgnorth. Overall it adds up to a £31m investment plan, with money being sought from outside funding and grants, and working to encourage commercial ventures.
A report to the council says: “There has been limited investment in some of the outdoor assets in recent years and there is an opportunity, as a key part of the visitor infrastructure for them to make a greater impact on the local economy.” Much more could be made of the River Severn, it adds.
It is not the first time that has been said. The big, big, question about putting ideas like this into practice is doing them in a way in which the golden goose does not suffer. There have been proposals in the past to make the River Severn in Shropshire navigable.
These schemes have to be thought through carefully.
But better to have ideas to discuss, than to have no ideas at all.