Midland News Association

Shropshire Star

Shropshire is used to flooding. The River Severn is both friend and foe to the county.

When the rains arrived in February, tens of thousands were put on alert to evacuate. The towns of Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, Ironbridge and, across the border, Bewdley, were all badly affected. The Shropshire Star became one of the main sources of information. We ran a running live feed updating people on the roads that were closed and areas deemed to dangerous to enter. Page views were triple those expected on a normal day. A taste of our coverage can be seen at https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/environment/2022/02/23/river-severn-flooding-live-updates-as-ironbridge-bridgnorth-and-shrewsbury-remain-under-water/. The newspaper ran pages of coverage and reaction of the initial emergency and has continuously questioned and probed on steps to alleviate flooding. We have previously run a successful campaign for better flood defences for Ironbridge, replacing the current temporary barriers that just about held out in February but have breached previously. We also continue to call for 'upstream' measures, including a possible run-off pools as well as environmental damming and planting. The safety of the A41 is another issue that we have campaigned on, achieving a pledge that funding is in place for a system of average speed cameras. It cannot come too soon following a series of tragedies on a main route to Holyhead that is full of HGVs negotiating tight bends. The money will, we are told, be in place by the end of the year and we will not rest until work starts. (https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/telford/2022/09/23/councillors-pledge-to-press-for-a41-to-receive-average-speed-cameras/) Our Feed a Family Campaign was launched as an emergency measure after foodbanks reported they were running dry of stock.We have profiled the plight of foodbanks as well as those they are helping. We have provided a register of groups offering help and advice people on the best items of give that remains online as an information source and is published regularly in-paper. Our submission includes testimonials from those who we have helped, who say it has made a real difference. For a rural county, Shropshire has experienced some difficult challenges in recent years. One is the failings within maternity care that runs over many years. It is a subject we have been reporting on for years and it culminated in a shocking report that highlighted up to 200 preventable deaths. We are conscious of our responsibility as a local newspaper title to be balanced and have done much work in winning the trust of bereaved families. We also very much wanted to be a document of record, stating facts without sensationalism. This is important both for those affected by the scandal but also for mothers-to-be who will use maternity services in Shropshire in the future. (https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/health/2022/03/30/ockenden-report-more-than-200-babies-and-mothers-died-due-to-hospital-trust-failings/) The Shropshire Star's ABC Jan to June 2022 is 11,998. Shropshirestar.com averages five million page views every month, which is a one per-cent increase year-on-year. Editions: https://we.tl/t-0wv5FI9UoM