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 6 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 one of the council’s biggest projects and one of the most divisive. I’ve updated this section of my profile as I was a bit conflicted myself and rather sitting on the fence… I live on the corner at Leaton on the ‘rat-run’ from Montford to Harlescott via Huffley Lane. Many people on this route believe that the NWRR will take all the traffic from these country lanes, but would it? Most of the traffic is local and would not change, it is just the rush hour when we see through traffic trying to avoid town centre congestion. But if we look at what has happened on the rest of the Shrewsbury bypasses, all the roundabouts on the existing ring road are congested during rush hour. When I was commuting around Shrewsbury, I too would take a longer detour just to avoid a queue on the ring road. Even the developers acknowledge that the Berwick Road roundabout will be congested and any reduction in traffic would likely be offset by new journeys created by the NWRR itself and by the new developments of houses and businesses. Instead, the road will create barriers – friends and voters in Bicton and elsewhere tell me of their worries that the road will cut them off from their local amenities and blight their environment. Just at the time when we can see that there is another way to work, with less dependence on cars, the NWRR would reverse all our climate gains trying to use a 1980s solution to a 2030s crisis. We need a sustainable solution to travel around and into Shrewsbury that does not destroy the village communities and countryside where we have chosen to make our homes. I am opposing the current NWRR plans and any similar wasteful and damaging mistakes. Our countryside and our communities cannot afford it and neither can our council budget afford to write wasteful blank cheques for such projects.
I am particularly interested in ensuring good youth support – they are the next generation of our communities! Shrewsbury’s Labour 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)