The Mayor of Ludlow and I held a meeting with Shropshire Council’s portfolio holder for transport, Steve Davenport, on Monday to discuss proposed increases in parking charges.
We were not told by Councillor Davenport that the final cabinet papers on charges had been agreed more than three hours before he arrived in Ludlow. Those papers say that proposed charges in Ellesmere, which Davenport represents, will not go ahead. They give concessions on charges in Shrewsbury, as demanded by Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council. Coincidentally, Councillor Nutting is also the Mayor of Shrewsbury.
Ludlow has been shafted. Utterly shafted.
Ludlow and its economy has been totally ignored in the proposals to be put to cabinet next Wednesday. Thriving town centres can be killed at a stroke of a bureaucratic pen. It takes decades to build them back up again.
It is outrageous that concessions have been made for Shrewsbury but none for Ludlow.
On the 27 June, I received an email from Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, also Mayor of Shrewsbury. He had announced that morning that there would be a review of changes to parking charges in Shrewsbury. Tim Gill, Mayor of Ludlow and I demanded equal treatment for Ludlow. Later that day, Peter Nutting promised a review for Ludlow.
Peter Nutting later said he was too busy with commitments and leave to come to Ludlow. He sent his transport portfolio holder instead.
That meeting took place on Monday afternoon.
It was a good meeting with Steve Davenport, also councillor for Ellesmere. But what he didn’t tell us was that the papers imposing new charges on Ludlow had been completed more than three hours before he arrived. Those recommend beneficial changes for Shrewsbury and Ellesmere but do not give an inch towards Ludlow’s concerns.
The cabinet papers for next week’s Shropshire Council cabinet were published yesterday afternoon. But the time stamp on the paperwork shows they were completed more than three hours before Councillor Davenport’s arrival in Ludlow on 16 July.
Steve Davenport and council leader Peter Nutting must delay charges to the parking charge regime in Ludlow until the discussion Tim and I held in Ludlow on Monday has been considered in detail.
We need a policy that is fine tuned to the needs of every market town in the county. Bureaucrats in Shirehall can’t achieve that without hearing local voices. As the cabinet paperwork for these changes published today shows, Shropshire Council has been engaged in a listening exercise in Ludlow without hearing a word said to it.
Shropshire Council has ignored proposals from Ludlow councillors to create up to sixty extra car parking spaces in the Ludlow town centre area and improve the park and ride.
Trade has been slowing in Ludlow in the last few years. We need policies to promote visitors and shoppers. These plans are all about implementing a countywide parking ideology without any evidence it will work.
Instead of investing in Ludlow, Shropshire Council seems determined to strip it of its vitality.
The main points of contention in Ludlow are:
1) Extension of parking charges on-street in the town centre until 8pm. This will damage Ludlow’s fragile night time economy.
2) Hiking of on-street parking charges in the town centre to £1.80 an hour. This is too high for a small market town 20 to 30 miles from anywhere.
3) Making the central car park at Castle Street long stay. It is currently short stay and that promotes turnover.
4) Banning market traders from parking their vans within half a mile from their stalls without paying £1.80 an hour. That will damage a thriving market.