Shropshire Council to review damaging parking charges next Wednesday – will it listen?

There is no longer any doubt that the parking regime introduced last November is damaging Ludlow’s independent traders. Ludlow Mayor Tim Gill told BBC Radio Shropshire last week that trade was down 13% before Christmas and 16% after Christmas. This was despite the mild winter. Roger Curry, owner of Bodenhams, told the station the new charges mean that people are always in a rush and don’t linger long enough to spend money (begins at 1:47).

These comments come ahead of a review of the parking regime imposed on our town by Shropshire Council last November. That regime increased on-street parking charges in the town centre to £1.80 an hour and the charge in Castle Street car park to £1.00 an hour. The pop and shop concession was reduced to from fifteen to five minutes. Charges on the Linney and Coronation Avenue substantially increased.

Next Wednesday, 5 June, a Shropshire Council committee will conduct the first review of the charges. Please let me know any additional comments you have before then.

The changes to parking charges introduced last November led to a huge protest in the Market Square. Shropshire Council received so many comments from traders and residents, council officers struggled to deal with them. The charges haven’t settled in well.

It is easier for town centre residents to park. Many want more permits for guests and family. Some have complained about the unwarranted increased cost of a permit to £100.

But the new regime has made it harder for short term shoppers to park. That has dented trade which is lower than last winter and spring despite much milder weather and an absence of snow events. Of course, income for individual businesses will go up and down. But the Ludlow Town Council survey shows a drop in footfall and takings across most of the independent traders in the town centre.

We are a town of around 5,000 households with maybe another 2,000 households coming to the town for daily or weekly shopping. Despite our small size, we have had a thriving market and around 80 independent retail, food and service businesses in the town centre. We have three butchers and three bakers. A local food market twice a month. Two greengrocers. A bookshop. Photo gallery. Wine shop. Award winning Delis. Antiques and much, much more. Far bigger towns than us would envy our independent shopping offer.

None of this would exist without the dedication of local people who shop local and visitors who love local shops.

Without this trade, our town centre will die. We don’t have enough people to sustain a high street of chain stores. We don’t want a high street of chain stores. We are Ludlow, not a clone town.

We need a better park and ride service. That’s not up for review at this stage. It has been on Shropshire Council’s long list of “things to do” for a while. I would like to see a more direct 20-minute frequency service from the Eco Park to the town centre during the summer months.

We need more parking. That can be achieved within existing space by repainting lines in all car parks and introducing a one way system on the top deck of the Galdeford car park.

We can also be more friendly towards visitors. That means lowering on-street charges. £1 an hour will be okay in the Red Zone. We need to stop the daily slapping of fines on vehicles in the market area by being clearer about where you can park and not park. The town council has a plan for this but that doesn’t seem to be making any progress. We should look at introducing half an hour free period in some areas.

We should stop assuming everyone can walk or hike from a car park to their shopping destination. For many people, walking can be a challenge.

We need to go electric. There are plans for an EV charging point in the Galdeford car park. Just one. Only one. We need several.

We need to slow traffic down on the approach roads and side streets so that people feel safe.

But our immediate action must be to get Shropshire Council to rethink the hike in parking charges and the reduction of pop and shop to a barely useable five minutes (there is an extra ten minutes observation time, but no one wants the panic of seeing a civil enforcement officer hovering over the car).

If our local traders put up the shutters, we will have a town centre like so many others. Shops that flit in and out. Betting, charity, cheap booze and pound shops. All of these can have a place in a town centre but they are not destination shopping. We must not become like Eccles or Northampton. We are Ludlow. Unique. A distinctive shopping experience. We need to celebrate that. We need to preserve it.

Shropshire Council must work with us on parking charges, not against us. It needs to make the charges work for Ludlow. Once a town centre dies, it is almost impossible to revive it.

There will be a second review of the charges in after the summer.

8 thoughts on “Shropshire Council to review damaging parking charges next Wednesday – will it listen?

  1. It’s an Absolute Disgrace charging £1.80 an hour . This Town only works for the wealthy . There is little in this Town for the poor Other towns such as Bewdley or Bridgnorth have a more across the board Retail offering . Ludlow is for those with Deep Pockets

  2. As a Town Centre resident, seeing a half empty Mill Street is no cause for joy at ease of parking as it indicates how much the swinging increases are contributing to the damage it is doing to our once thriving town. 50% Empty bays pretty much wipe out any extra ‘profit’ to the Council their thoughtless increases were supposedly to bring.
    Given the doubling of charges for Residents and the new 5 minute ‘free’ parking Visitor Parking Permit Books should be reinstated. Having to go on-line and guesstimate the time a visitor will stay and provide number plates means any unexpected visitor must pay for at least an hour of parking to give time fro do this. It also assumes all Residents have online access. The books, which could be bought in advance, were far more convenient. As a consequence residents now pay double for a worse system.

  3. Hi Andy, I must admit I’m not popping into town nearly as much as I used to – the 15 minute “free” parking was enough to get cheese and veg from the market, or to visit the butcher – but 5 minutes is too little – no time even to pass the time of day. I also see that Mill Street often has plenty of places free, though I presume Broad Street is now occupied by residents as there is rarely even one space available there. As a small plus, I hadn’t realised that Galdeford car park was free on a Sunday (in small writing)!

  4. I agree with Marilyn, as a town centre resident with no garage or drive, I take little pleasure in the increased ease I now have in parking. I actually prefer the electronic scheme for visitors but baulk at being charged for hourly increments. If a visitor parks at 4:45pm, I have to purchase 2 hours of parking time, wasting an unnecessary 45mins after restrictions end at 6pm. It all adds up. Ludlow centre thrives:thrived perhaps because of the ease of short term on street parking, which is a rarity nowadays. Tighter controls to balance the needs of businesses and residents were needed and an increase in the hourly charge would have been more easily accepted if it wasn’t so ludicrously overpriced and accompanied by the laughable reduction of pop and shop to 5 minutes (really, we’re supposed to keep a straight face?). Moreover, the controls needed still weren’t put in place – you can still register a vehicle for a residents permit even if it’s not registered in the zone and you can still get residents passes (to pass on) if you are lucky enough to have offstreet parking. It’s a lucrative trade in itself…

  5. It is often not possible to know how long you want or need to park so it would be helpful if there was a parking facility where you could pay on exit according to how long you had parked.
    Also I would like to see the fifteen minute free parking reinstated as 5mins is useless.

  6. It’s always been interesting that petrol sales are affected by tiny variations in price; I’ll go to X station cos it’s a penny a litre less than Y. Use of towns for shopping falls into this category. I live three miles out, so popping into my nearest town is a small expedition; add to the minor inconvenience of the travel and the minor inconvenience of parking the extra inconvenience of a £1.80 charge, and the lure of the internet just fades it. On Sunday I ordered some contact lenses online and they were delivered at 10.30 on Monday. Postage was free and they cost no more than I would have had to pay if I’d bought them locally. Small Shropshire towns are facing an economic sea-change. Shropshire council’s horizon has shrunk to the borders of Shrewsbury, and its understanding of what constitutes ‘long-term ‘ seems to be ‘after the next council elections’. Wise up, guys. The times they are a’changing.

  7. Taxation without any benefits is theft pure and simple, the policy of tax more for less benefits for us and can we have a voice? No it’s the answer because the Tory council will not lose seats if we do.

  8. One thing that would help is an interactive parking map to replace the one at http://www.ludlow.org.uk/parking.html#map1, i.e. one that shows charges and days and times those charges are applicable. I assume that the Town Council manages this website but I’m a new resident (and part time, and that), so can somebody have a word with them?

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