It’s disappointing that there hasn’t been a more constructive approach to parking by the authorities to parking in our historic market town. Shropshire Council has been hell bent on imposing a standardised model of parking operations. Ludlow Town Council is taking an over-the-top approach to parking in the market area, including banning motorcycles.
This is driven by an obsession with regulation at the expense of a coherent plan for managing the town centre.
I have no idea why Ludlow Town Council is consulting on a plan to ban motorcycles from the market area without first drawing up a plan to provide alternative spaces. Perhaps it realises how difficult that alternative provision will be.
There are enough motorcycle spaces for the average weekday. But not for the weekend peaks. That’s why parking in Castle Square has been so useful. To accommodate 20 or 30 bikes on-street or in car parks, will require 10 to 15 car parking spaces to be removed. That’s hardly likely to be popular move with residents or traders.
The only obvious location is to create a bike rank outside the British Legion and down to the corner of Bell Lane, or outside the Blue Boar. But Ludlow Town Council has not proposed this or any other location for displaced motorcycles.
Flexible use of space is the simplest solution. That’s how it has worked so far with the use of Castle Square. Of course, we need a considerate bikers scheme to stop bad parking and revving of engines. But the town council has made no attempt to engage the biking community. It doesn’t look like that will happen. We will just get damaging over-regulation.
Shropshire Council is no better. I have written extensively on its aggressive proposals to hike charges.
I would not like people to think that we councillors have not been constructive in our approach. We have put forward serious proposals to improve parking in the town.
We have proposed creating 20 or so extra spaces on the top deck of Upper Galdeford car park by reorganising the bays. Has anything happened about that? Not a squeak out of Shropshire Council.
We have suggested bringing the Youth Centre car park into public use at weekend, creating another 20 or so spaces. The reaction to that proposal? Nothing.
We have supported the Mayor of Ludlow’s proposal that street parking should be within marked bays to encourage vehicles to park closer together, thereby creating extra spaces. What has happened about that? Zilch.
Together, these proposals could create around 60 extra car parking spaces during the week and 80 at weekends. All for the cost of a few signs and a long overdue repainting of parking bays.
These are not the only ways of improving access to the town centre. We have said that the transport and parking strategy for Ludlow should be built around the park and ride service. Facilities at the Eco Park should be improved, including a weatherproof bus shelter and toilets. The car park surface and signage should be repaired or replaced. Nothing, of course, has happened about this. The truth is that Shropshire Council does not have a transport and parking strategy for Ludlow. Neither does the town council.
Instead of coherent planning for the social and economic future of Ludlow, what we are experiencing is an obsession with regulation and imposition of countywide rules. There has been no assessment of the economic impact of the decisions. All we have is a “make it up as you go along” approach.
Is it too late for a rethink and new approach? The two councils’ attitude throughout these consultations has been “we can do this, so we will.” It will take some strong leadership to change that approach. I see no sign of that happening.