Shropshire Star

Mark Andrews: A short, sharp shock, young people and poppies, and a shopping centre's vital missing link

Only 50 per cent of people will wear a poppy this weekend, according to a survey by Ipsos. The figure falls to little more than a third for those aged 42 or younger.

Can you spot what's missing from the new-look Saddlers Centre?

How sad. You would think young people, who seem to wear badges for every obscure cause you can think of, would be especially keen to find space on their lapels.

Maybe some of this is just youthful rebellion, and today's truculent youngsters will be the Legion volunteers of tomorrow.

But I doubt it. You only have to listen to some of the attitudes towards Churchill to sense a widening disconnect between young adults and the generations that served in two World Wars.

We will remember them, goes the poem For the Fallen. We will remember them.

I sincerely hope that is still the case half a century from now.

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Incidentally, I wonder how many people taking part in today's March for Palestine will be proudly sporting their poppies? Not many, I suspect.

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Tougher laws on this, new regulations on that. Rapists serving their entire prison sentence. A lot of talk about law and order in the King's Speech.

Which sounds great. Except that only a few weeks ago judges were being told to go easy on rapists and burglars because there was not enough space in the jails.

Now here is a suggestion on how to tackle the problem, and provide a real deterrent to crime. But don't expect it to see it in the King's Speech any time soon.

How about bringing back the birch? This is not a knee-jerk 'hang 'em, flog 'em' response, but a practical solution to the lack of prison space.

Obviously the most dangerous offenders need to be locked up for the public's protection. But for mid-level crimes such as shoplifting, graffiti, vandalism, and maybe even first-time burglary, a short-sharp shock would probably be more effective. And certainly a lot cheaper.

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A protest we can all get behind.

Some 300 people marched on the village of Audlem in Cheshire to campaign against charges for publicly owned car parks.

Good for them. Parking fees imposed by local authorities are one of the great rip-offs of our time. Public car parks, by definition, belong to the public. So what right do these bureaucrats have to charge people for parking on their own land?

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Walsall Council has issued exciting pictures of plans to revamp the Saddlers Shopping Centre, having controversially bought the shopping mall for £12.5 million in 2017.

And very attractive they look too. Sun-kissed open atriums, plate-glass frontages, tree-lined walkways to the railway station. Everything, in fact, bar one small thing. A single shop.