I was rather surprised to find myself challenged three times walking through the market today about my support for a ban on motorcycles parking on Castle Square. I have never agreed with this ban sponsored by Ludlow Town Council. I cheer the weekend bikers’ gatherings. I think it is great for the town. It’s great for traders. Today I signed a petition against the council’s proposed ban.
I just don’t agree with the ban. Ludlow Town Council has got this one wrong.
The most important thing is to let Ludlow Town Council know your views. The council says it will accept responses until the middle of next week (6 June).
Today, people were crowding around the twenty or so bikes outside the castle. The arrival of the bikes was an attraction. Bikers snacking up and spending their money locally.
There have been problems with lousy biker parking and revving of bikers’ engines in the town centre. A few advisory signs would solve most of that. We have “quiet deliveries” schemes for supermarkets, so why not a “quiet bikers” scheme? Around the country we have considerate parking schemes. But here in Shropshire we never take a soft and social approach. It’s the iron fist. Always.
OUT! DAMN BIKERS!
Here we have a set piece clash. It’s between those who moved to the town centre to live a quiet life and those that want to keep our town centre lively. And a town council that believes that yet more regulation is the only way forward for our town.
The heart of this problem is Ludlow Town Council’s proposal to ban all vehicles, including motorbikes from the market area. It is the ban on motorbikes that will hurt the town as there are no alternative places.
Shropshire Council told me this week that scheme is “nothing to do with us.”
I challenged that when I met Shropshire Council’s traffic commissioners last Monday. I asked about the market area consultation. They said that the consultation on restrictions in the area has no authority from Shropshire Council. It was something done on Ludlow Town Council’s own back. I have asked for clarification on the legal side of this but have had no response.
I hate the idea of banning bikers from the town centre. If they are banned from the front of the Castle, they will have nowhere else to go. Ludlow Town Council has not put forward any proposals for alternative biker parking. I simply don’t know why the town council is backing a ban.
If bikers go elsewhere, it will not affect the income of Ludlow Town Council one jot. But it will contribute to the chilling effect on trade in the town centre that is driven by business rates hikes and soaring rents.
I have chatted to many bikers outside the castle in recent weeks. They agree that they should not block access when parking. I am sure that most will agree not to blast their exhausts just for the fun of it if we explain the reasons.
Ludlow Town Council needs to ask itself whether its primary duty is to keep our town centre tidy and quiet. Is its aim to manicure Ludlow so it looks like town centres in glossy Sunday supplements? Or is its ambition to promote a thriving economy.
We can work with the bikers who spend a lot of money in our town and help bring life to it. Or we can send them elsewhere.
The town centre is a difficult place to manage because of the competing interests between residents, traders and visitors. But if the town centre dies, Ludlow dies.
Town centres need to operate in a social way. The iron fist ban proposed by Ludlow Town Council is out of order. We need to welcome people to our town centre, not drive them to other towns.