We Need You! Here’s How to Get involved
We’re up against the clock now, if we’re going to fight these plans, it’s all hands on deck!
What’s the point in fighting?
By far the biggest hurdle we face as a group, and as a community, is public cynicism. People are, understandably, fed up with politics. The biggest roadblock we face is the one question we hear all the time: ‘What’s the point in fighting? They are just going to do what they want anyway.’ To that we would say, well, they might try. But democracy still matters, your voice matters, as does statutory planning policy, and all those rules and regulations. This red tape is hugely in our favour – there are rules, there are procedures, there are means of challenging and appealing. There are even ways of getting fence sitters off the fence! This is where you come in. Please do not underestimate the importance of people power and public opinion. Together, local communities can make change happen.
What can you do to help us?
1. Write to your MP, Philip Dunne:
The number one priority – the most important thing you can do – is write to your MP! Generally, MPs don’t get involved in local planning matters. However, they will step in if enough constituents write to them to express concern (as Shifnal’s MP, Mark Pritchard has done). Philip Dunne has already given us some excellent guidance. He has told us that he would like to hear from residents in his Constituency who have concerns about the Council’s Local Plan Review for Bridgnorth.
Philip Dunne is a good MP, but he’s also a politician and only human! There is a spanner in the works when it comes to gaining his full support: Lord Hamilton, the landowner of Hermitage Farm at Stanmore. Lord Hamilton is also President of Ludlow Conservatives, Philip Dunne’s constituency, as well as the owner of Apley Estate. We are not implying that Mr Dunne has acted with impropriety, far from it, but politically, the Stanmore plans put him in a jam, caught between public opinion and the backing of his local party and its major influencer, the 5th Baron Hamilton of Dalzell. Lord Hamilton stands to make an enormous amount of money from this development if it goes ahead. The more constituents who appeal to Philip Dunne asking him to represent their views the better. We all need to write to him, telling him why we object, and asking him to step in.
You can write to Philip Dunne MP at:
Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP
54 Broad Street
or email him: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to include your full name, address and postcode in any correspondence. Philip Dunne also holds regular surgeries in Bridgnorth and you can request a meeting with him in person: https://www.philipdunne.com/surgeries
Key points to include in your letter or email would be:
- What are the exceptional circumstances that justify the release of greenbelt land? There appears to be no substantive case.
- What is the evidence that Bridgnorth needs this many houses? Shropshire Council have failed to demonstrate need.
- What is the business case? Shropshire Council have misrepresented local businesses, haven’t published an economic plan, and according to the CPRE are overestimating employment land need by 250%.
- Is it environmentally sustainable? Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, Friends of the Earth, CPRE and others have all raised concerns about the devastating environmental impact.
- What will be the impact on the tourist trade? As far as we are aware, nobody has even asked this question!
- Have Shropshire Council run a robust and proper consultation? Have they adhered to the Gunning Princples?
- Also highlight your concerns re infrastructure, roads, parking, schools, traffic, drainage and sewage, medical care etc.
2. Fill in our Survey!
We’ve already delivered 8,500 surveys door to door in Bridgnorth and Worfield, thanks to the leg work of our dedicated volunteers. Shropshire Council haven’t been listening to local people – if they won’t, then we will. People’s views on these plans, and their thoughts on what kind of housing and development Bridgnorth and Worfield need are crucial. For or against, we want to hear your views.
If you haven’t had a Survey you can pick one up from:
Butlers Coffee Shop (behind Sainsburys); Simply Stylish, 11 Whitburn St; The Winding House Tearooms, 6 Castle Terrace; Co-op Lodge Lane; Worfield Garage (next to The Wheel); Rudge Heath Stores (near the Royal Oak).
Return your survey:
Either by post or by hand: 39, The Hobbins, Bridgnorth WV15 5HJ
Or drop it into: Worfield Garage; Simply Stylish, 11 Whitburn St; The Winding House Tea Rooms, 6 Castle Terrace; or in the box inside St Peter’s Church, Worfield.
Please note, the Brasserie has sadly closed down since our survey was printed.
3. Donate to Our Campaign
We urgently need to raise public awareness of our campaign to let everyone in Bridgnorth, and in Worfield & Rudge Parish, know what’s happening, and tell them how to TAKE ACTION. So far we’ve been covering these costs ourselves, but we’re now at the point that we need to raise funds. These initiatives will provide a solid platform for informed debate when the second stage of the public consultation rolls out in the late autumn 2019. We’ve got no time to waste, time is running out! Every single donation, large or small, every penny, will be put to good use. With your help, we can reach our £6,000 target so that we can fight these plans.
In brief, we need to: cover print and design costs for tens of thousands more flyers, leaflets, and booklets; create a step by step consultation guide, in print and online; kit out teams of volunteers in branded clothing; hire stalls and stands at local events; create some professionally edited short films for social media and TV; upgrade our website plus engage the services of a planning consultant and commission a professional ecological survey. All our suppliers are willing to provide at cost, we just need to cover their outlay.
You can donate support our crowdfunder here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/savebridgnorthgreenbelt
Or donate via PayPal here:
Or you can make an online transfer, or pay in over the counter at HSBC on the High St (on the corner of Listley Street) or at any Post Office branch. Payments to:
Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt
Sort Code: 40-13-24
Or send a cheque made out to ‘Save Bridgnorth Greebelt’ to Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt Campaign, 39, The Hobbins, Bridgnorth, WV15 5HJ
This is a dedicated community account, all spending decisions are made by our management committee, and require two signature verification. We will publish our accounts on our website, to ensure full transparency.
4. Write to your Town and Parish Council
Your Parish Council and your Town Council work for you, that’s their job. They are statutory bodies, that should speak up for you and act in your interests. If hundreds of residents write to them stating their objections, then they must reflect that in their dealings with Shropshire Council. If you live within the boundary of your local council, you are also entitled to attend their meetings. Parish and Town Councils are often also looking for volunteers to help them when producing plans and surveys.
Parish and Town Plans
At the time of writing Worfield Parish Council do not have an up-to-date Parish Plan, and Bridgnorth Town Council do not have an up-to-date Town Plan (the latter is just beginning the process of creating one). This is important because these plans should reflect the views of residents, and they are the means by which a Local Authority finds out what different neighbourhoods want, and need. Whilst Parish and Town Plans carry no statutory weight, they do have to be considered by Local Authorities during a Local Plan Review. See here for a Government plain English guide to the Planning System.
The next step up from a Parish or Town Plan, is what is known in ‘planning speak’ as a Neighbourhood Plan. These are much more complicated; they take professional input, time and money to produce, and they must be agreed by referendum. Parish and Town Council’s resist producing them because they are so onerous (though grants are available). However, Neighbourhood Plans do carry statutory weight, and they must be taken into account by the Local Authority when undertaking a Local Plan Review, and they must be considered by the Government Planning Inspector. Neighbourhood Plans are the best means by which a local council can prevent aggressive development within their boundary. Read the CPRE’s excellent guide to Neighbourhood Plans here.
It is worth pointing out that both Worfield Parish Council and Bridgnorth Town Council have had closed, unminuted meetings with Planners from Shropshire Council, some going as far back as 2017. You can contact your local Council, and tell them you object to these plans, ask them why they don’t have up to date Parish / Town Plans, urge them to create a Neighbourhood Plan, and ask what they are doing to speak up for you and prevent this development here:
Worfield and Rudge Parish Council
See Worfield Parish Council’s website for agendas, meeting dates, and minutes
Clerk to the Parish Council
Bridgnorth Town Council
See Bridgnorth Town Council’s website for meeting dates, committees, committee members, agendas and minutes
Bridgnorth Town Council
4 St. Leonard’s Close
Tel: 01746 762231
Or contact Bridgnorth Town Councillors individually:
Names, addresses and email addresses are listed on their website: HERE
5. Write to Shropshire Council, your County Councillors, and attend Councillor Surgeries at Bridgnorth Library
Shropshire Council are very invested in pushing these proposed plans through. However, they are also a democratically elected body, and Councillors and council officers have a duty to be accountable to the public, their electorate. You can write to the Council stating your objections, you can submit freedom of information (FOI) requests, and you can attend cabinet meetings as a member of the public.
Shropshire Council Key Contacts:
Clive Wright, Council CEO: email@example.com
Peter Nutting, Council Leader firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Barrow, Director of Place: email@example.com
Adrian Cooper, Planning Policy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gemma Davies, Economic Growth: email@example.com
Your local County Councillors:
Michael Wood, Worfield: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Lea, B’north East and Astley Abbotts email@example.com
William Parr, B’north East and Astley Abbots firstname.lastname@example.org
Eliot Lynch, B’north West and Tasley email@example.com
Les Winwood, B’north West and Tasley firstname.lastname@example.org
Your County Councillors hold a monthly surgery at Bridgnorth Library (ask at the library or see the Facebook page, ‘Shropshire Councillors For Bridgnorth’ for upcoming dates). You can just turn up and wait to see them.
Next available dates are:
Bridgnorth Library, Saturday, 22 June 2019 from 10:00-12:00
Bridgnorth Library, Saturday, 20 July 2019 from 10:00-12:00
6. Sign up to our Email List
7. Spread the word
Follow us on Facebook:
We already have 800 followers on social media, and it’s the second biggest way people hear about us. If you want to keep up with the latest news, and keep track of what we’re doing, social media is a great way to stay up to date (plus we’ve got some really cool stuff to share in the near future). Please do share our posts and invite your friends to like our pages. You can find us at:
Share our Leaflets:
We printed some great A5 flyers – take a bundle and hand them out to your family and friends. Put a flyer on your office or sports club notice board, take them into your WI, U3A, or local activity groups, hand them out in cafes etc. If you’d like more leaflets then send us a PM or send us an email and we’ll get some to you. We’ve got posters, booklets, and more materials coming soon.
Display a car sticker
We’ve got some eye-catching cars sticker and we’d love our supporters to display one on their windscreens. They are also suitable as window stickers in shops and homes. Let us know if you want one. They’re free.
Put a sign in your garden, or on your verge
We have corex signs available for you to display in your hedge or garden. Please contact us by PM or email if you’d like one. We have other designs coming soon, and we really want them to make an impact. Everywhere people go, town or countryside, we are hoping that they will see our signs.
If you own land near a main road that you think would be suitable for one of our large 8ft x 4ft signs, please get in touch.
For such a small and tight knit community, we are amazed that so few people know about these plans, or truly understand their scale and impact. There’s a lot of misinformation and confusion floating around too. The biggest and best help you can be to us, is to tell everyone! Get chatting to your friends, neighbours and colleagues.
Direct them to our website, tell them to follow us on Facebook, give them a leaflet, ask them if they’ve filled in our survey.
Over the next few months, our campaign to save Bridgnorth’s Greenbelt is going to crank up several gears, culminating in a huge drive in the autumn of 2019 when we hope to get as many people as possible to send a response to the second stage consultation. We will also be present at, and hosting several more events. If you’d like to volunteer – as a consultation buddy, to drop off and collect leaflets, to help at events, or hand out literature, then please do let us know.
8. Get us into your networks
Over the summer and into the autumn we’d like get out and about in the community and to talk to as many people as possible. We can come along and give a short talk or presentation to your community group. If you are involved with the Women’s Institute, U3A, Young Farmers, Rotary, Lions Club, a sports club, a playgroup, a church group, or a school etc then please do get in touch, we’d love to come and talk to you.
Equally, we are keen to reach out to local business. Maybe you own or work for a major employer in the town. Our business committee, led by Henry Carver, would love to hear from you.
If you would like to speak to us in confidence, then please be assured that any contact will be kept completely confidential, and any information you give us will be treated with the utmost discretion.
9. Lend us your skills
We are lucky that we already have the help and support of some brilliant professionals, all giving their time and expertise for free. We have chartered surveyors, scientists, print and design experts, entrepreneurs, marketeers, fundraisers, writers, and people experienced in local politics and business. However, if you have a skill that you think would be useful and you want to get involved, please do drop us a line. Right now, we are particularly looking for support with: email (platforms such a Mail Chimp), HTML Code, WordPress back end, ecology and biodiversity, photography, drone footage, film making, professional editing, and advertising.
But please don’t be shy, perhaps you are a champion cake baker, and would like to run a cake stall and raise so funds for us. Or perhaps you are handy with a drill and would be happy spending an afternoon driving around delivering and putting up signs. Enthusiasm is key and all offers of help would be fantastic, so we would love to hear from you! Whatever your skill, if you think it’ll help, get in touch. Or email@example.com or write to us at Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt campaign, 39, The Hobbins, Bridgnorth WV15 5HJ (be sure to include a contact phone number).
10. Buy the Shropshire Star and Bridgnorth Journal
One surprising survey result was that most people have heard about the plans and about Save Bridgnorth Greenbelt through the Shropshire Star, Bridgnorth Journal and Express and Star. The chief reporter has done an excellent job of covering this issue, in a fair and balanced way. Most newspaper articles can be read online, but this means newspaper sales are declining. Newspapers play a really important role in holding politicians and councils to account. They are still the main way local people hear their news. If you agree, one way you can help is by buying your local newspaper. Since January we’ve had 26 articles in the press, that’s about one a week. We’ve worked hard to get coverage; but reporters have done their bit too, making sure you have heard both sides of the story.