Herefordshire needs some 40,000 to 50,000 people to come to live in the county in the next 30 years if the county is not to be consumed into the West Midlands Regional conglomerate.

In that event, the county would likely to be represented by no more than eight elected representatives, whose voices would be lost in the shouts of Birmingham and the Black Country.  Most ‘Unitary’ authorities have populations of approximately 250,000, similarly Clinical Commissioning Groups. 

 To avoid the West Midlands running Herefordshire, we need to be able to afford to live here. Saving the environment, providing social care for our elderly, the provision of education for all and maintaining the county’s existing infrastructure, requires a great deal of change to how the county is run. 

Herefordshire is a business, its shareholders are its 180,000 population, the board of directors the councillors elected by its shareholders every four years. We have almost the lowest wages in the country.   

Herefordshire Council cannot afford to do some of the things it would be nice to do. The council has few ways available to them to raise more money to provide its shareholders a better dividend, a higher standard of living. 

The solution is to encourage businesses from across the world to settle in the county or to do business with our existing firms. That means ensuring the infrastructure is there to enable the population to grow to work in these businesses who will be paying wages equal to the national average. 

We need more housing, we need better road and rail networks, these are wholly compatible with each other and need developers to help provide them. These are long term goals, unfortunately time is not on our side. To be honest, since Herefordshire Council came into being, successive administrations have recognised the problems ahead and tried to prepare our county for the future.

Herefordshire is largely dependent on government funding and the county needs to show its commitment to future building. 

A successful business always plans many years ahead, sometimes it has to make difficult and unpopular decisions, upsetting shareholders and partners but never taking its eye off the reasons for it’s decision making. So a ring road around the city, the provision of more and better housing, will, unfortunately, upset some people, while future generations will be grateful for the debate that has gone on, and the decisions that will be made to ensure the county’s future prosperity. Herefordshire plc is a great business, with huge dividends to come, but we cannot afford to stall these decisions any longer.  

Chris Chappell