I am Dr Alan Herbert and have lived at Leaton in Tern Division for 21 years. Our children grew up here and our youngest has lived nowhere else. She is away at university now but our older two have moved back to the county and are struggling to find jobs and to get a place of their own here.
I used to be a Lecturer in Hydrogeology at University of Birmingham, and a director of one of the larger environmental consultancy companies in Shrewsbury, but over the last two years I have set up my own business based in Leaton. It has been great being able to avoid the commute but like many of our local small businesses, the last six months have been challenging. I’m one of the very small businesses that fell through the government’s support network as my business suffered during lockdown so I am well aware of the challenges to our local economy.
In our community I have mostly been involved supporting youngsters as they grow up. I was a Friend of Bomere Heath primary school and then a governor – we planted the trees in the school field and got the Games area behind the village hall. I ran cycling proficiency courses and we won grants for a science club I ran for a few years. More recently I ran scouts and explorers (teenage scouts) at Boreatton. That’s outside Tern Division but many children from Bomere, Montford Bridge and Bicton were in my troop. We had a great time, exploring the world from Fiji to Outer Mongolia and trekking to see Everest and the Altai mountains. We also won national school’s competitions and represented the UK in international science and engineering competitions – you might have seen our fundraising efforts that made these adventures affordable to all the children.
I am also a trustee for Shropshire Youth Association that supports youth clubs including Bomere and Bicton youth clubs when they are active. I currently work to deliver the Duke of Edinburgh programme and lead scouting activities in the outdoors – or at least I will when the current crisis allows. I hope to continue to be involved in working for our community as your councillor after the local elections next May. Maybe I will talk to grownups a bit more!
We can make a difference!
The Labour Party in Shropshire is developing its local manifesto over the next few months. What are your priorities, and how we can support you and rebuild our local economy and society?
The North West Relief Road (NWRR) is the big issue for the council at the moment. This is quite a divisive issue for Shrewsbury and the surrounding villages. In our Division we have villages affected by inappropriate traffic on ‘rat-runs’ through the countryside, but also there are fears that the NWRR will lead to inappropriate infill development that could blight local villages. Some of the development is already signed off and can only be influenced by specifying best use of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to help integrate new developments and preserve our villages. We need to support Bicton and stop it being overwhelmed by uncontrolled development. The NWRR is also linked to the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan with the current north-south route through town along Smithfield Road proposed to be pedestrianised. The NWRR could contribute to a greener new town centre that reflects the modern town centre as a greener space with a leisure and hospitality economy as the town centre retail and business environment is increasingly smaller scale and specialised. This can create some benefit from the council’s ill timed purchase of the shopping centres. The cost of the development is supported by central government and, can use the flood prevention fund agreed by central government to provide the local match funding required. There are clearly two sides to the argument and the key will be to make sure the plans for the town, traffic and flood management are properly integrated.
I am particularly interested in ensuring good youth support – they are the next generation of our communities! Shrewsbury’s Labour-led Town Council is working to build a successful youth service in the town. We need to ensure that the villages of Tern Division are not ignored. SYA, where I am a trustee, is supporting youth clubs across the county and for example supporting the youth club in Bomere.
Big housing developments can overwhelm our communities but without more affordable housing our children will be forced away and our villages risk decline and threats to the schools, shops and pubs as they are slowly transformed into dormitory spaces for commuters. There are targets for housing development imposed by central government: our council needs to ensure that it is appropriate. I have seen how difficult it has been for my daughter to try and get a house near here. It is demoralising for our children to be faced with no chance to buy an affordable house in the foreseeable future if things do not change.
I’m a keen cyclist. The Labour council in Shrewsbury is helping make cycling safer and easier in town. I hope we can extend this out towards our villages in Tern and ensure that our roads are safe for bikes. Traffic calming, appropriate speed and traffic limits, and properly maintained roads and separate cycle ways will give people confidence to embrace more sustainable ways of getting around. We are fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful countryside through-out Tern Division and it has been great to be able to get out into it during the lockdown.
One of my pledges is to listen to you! Our policies are still being developed in detail and there is an opportunity to make your opinion count. If you share my vision and want to feed your opinion into our local policies, contact me by email or post a comment on my facebook page using the links below – or better yet join us!.
Alan Herbert’s latest newsletter (pdf)