It’s been something of a nightmare. Since the clampdown on parking in the market area was launched last spring, people have been fined because it is simply not clear where you can and cannot park in our town centre. We also have a problem with vehicles blocking access to Quality Square, College Court and Church Street. More than 50 people live beyond the Quality Square arch, most of them elderly. We must guarantee fire and ambulance access to Quality Square throughout the day and night.
Market stalls sometimes spread onto the access area as well, especially outside White Stuff.
After discussions with highways officers and the town council, we unitary councillors are proposing changes to the yellow lines in the market area to make it clear where people can and cannot park.
It is really confusing at the east end of the market. A set of double yellow lines runs right alongside the market stalls. Another two sets of lines define the access into Quality Square. Motorists see this set of lines as permission to park by the market stalls. They do not realise that the area by the stalls is legally the highway so they are in danger of getting a ticket slapped on the windscreen. Too many motorists have had penalty notices and this has damaged the reputation of our town to be a good place to visit at night.
We are proposing to remove the yellow lines by the market stalls and extend yellow lines across the front of White Stuff. This is best explained by the image below. The aim is to create a clear highway from PizzaExpress to Love Ludlow and the entrance to Quality Square. It will then turn at Harp Lane Deli to join the end of the High Street at Vision Express.
The area to the east of the demountable market stalls will then be available for market stalls during the day and parking at night. That should limit the parking fines.
Traders that currently spread towards White Stuff will need to move into the defined area. I don’t see that as a problem. It’s just a question of explaining and organising where stalls, tents and tables can be erected. It’s about ensuring they do not block the highway access to Quality Square. At the same time, we don’t want to do anything that might damage any business or the health of one of the most successful markets in the country.
In and Out of Ludlow, the local transport forum, has already given its support to this scheme. I am hoping that the town council will agree the plans on 8 March.
The Market Square area currently occupied by demountable market stalls is owned by the town council. The same is true of Events Square, the open space in front of the castle gates. I’ll be asking the council to clarify its position on whether it is happy with parking in these areas during the evening. In my view, when parking is causing no hassle or danger, we shouldn’t fuss about it. Signage requesting people park with care and leave by the end of the evening will help.
I should warn that if this scheme is implemented, we will be asking Shropshire Council’s civil enforcement officers to protect access to Quality Square. This makes sense. We all hope that the ultimate horror of a fire in College Court never occurs. But no one in this town would forgive themselves for failing to ensure that fire engines and ambulances could get access without having to move vehicles and market stalls out of the way.
We need to think of saving lives, not just the convenience of parking or trading.