Well done everyone. Today, we got concessions on proposed car parking charges. We got movement on key issues. But it’s a score draw – two all.
This follows a year of campaigning by traders, councillors and residents.
Plans to charge for on-street parking in the town centre after 6pm have been abandoned. Traders will be allowed to park their vans in Castle Street rather than having to take them to Smithfield to the Linney. Two goals up to us.
On-street charges will soar up in the town centre Red Zone. The free pop and shop period will be all but scrapped. Two goals down.
We began our protests at the beginning of July 2017. I have lost count of how many public, private and committee meetings I have been to since then. I have written nearly 30 blog posts on the new parking rules. That alone shows how busy it has been. It is not just unitary councillors that have been active. The town council, mayor, chamber of commerce and residents’ association have all worked hard to convince Shropshire Council that the proposals would kill trade in our town centre. Philip Dunne wrote to council leader Peter Nutting last week calling for a review of the proposals.
We didn’t any concessions until the very last minute. Only in recent days has our anger that other towns were getting a better deal than Ludlow has been acknowledged by Shirehall. Changes in staff and political leadership have helped. But it was Ludlow shouting loudly, including with the protest yesterday evening, that got us heard. That meant there were talks before cabinet met today to try and resolve a suite of political and legal matters.
I went into the cabinet meeting without having a clue about what was to happen. It began badly. My question to the cabinet had not been acknowledged by the council despite it being submitted in the correct way on time. I objected from the floor and was permitted to read it:
The Mayor of Ludlow, Councillor Tim Gill, and myself met Councillor Davenport in Ludlow on 16 July to discuss proposed changes to parking charges. This meeting was arranged after council leader Peter Nutting and officers spoke on local media supporting amelioration of parking regime changes in Shrewsbury. After the Ludlow meeting, Councillor Davenport said he had proposed changes to officers. What are those changes? Are they incorporated in amendments to the cabinet papers today?
The answer was I should wait to hear what was to be said in the meeting. I accepted that reply, knowing that I could intervene later.
During the meeting, we gained two major concessions and one extra review.
Win. The proposal to charge on Red Zone (town centre) streets until 8pm in the evening has been thrown out. Charges will end at 6pm. That’s great news for our evening economy and Ludlow Assembly Rooms.
Win. Market traders can continue to park in Castle Street car park at £2/£4 a day. For legal reasons, there will be a new consultation on this but the agreement will reassure market traders they are welcome and loved in Ludlow.
Lose. It will cost £1.80 an hour to park on streets in the core town centre (Red Zone). This is not a battle lost forever (see review below) but I fear it will damage town centre trade.
Lose. The fifteen minute free pop and shop parking will be cut to five minutes. Civil enforcement officers can’t slap a ticket for the next ten minutes, giving 14 minutes in theory. But they are so keen in our town that many people won’t want to take the risk of being a few seconds late getting back to the car. This is bad news for local shops given the £1.80 an hour charge.
Review. It was already agreed there would be a review after six months. I pressed for and won a second review at 12 months so we can see the full impact. We need that as we will not see the full impact of the charges during the winter.
We haven’t got everything we wanted. I think we have cause for a half-pint celebration not a full pint. We would not have got this far without such tremendous support from the entire town.
The battle to keep Ludlow’s trader and visitor economy thriving is not over. It will never be over. But we have seen off a couple of the challenges today.
There is more to do. But I am just heading off to the pub for that half pint!