Ludlow Town Council, Ludlow Chamber of Commerce, and the Shropshire Councillors for Ludlow and Clee have written to the leader of Shropshire Council to call for free parking in the town’s car parks to be extended. Free parking is available across all car parks owned by Shropshire Council until the end of June. Councillors and traders in Ludlow are calling for that concession to be extended until the end of October.
No one expects trade in rural market towns to instantaneously spring back into life as lockdown ends. We need to do everything we can to support our independent shops and traders until the town’s retail economy gets back on its feet. Without that retail economy, Ludlow will not be Ludlow.
Ludlow town and unitary councillors, along with the Chamber of Commerce, are calling on Shropshire Council to extend free parking in Ludlow’s car parks until October. The current arrangement for free parking is set to expire in June.
Mayor Ludlow, Tim Gill, explains:
“Ludlow is a town with a well-deserved reputation for being a great place to visit for a day, even for a few hours. Once the lockdown ends, we want to get back to business as usual. But it will be a challenge to attract people to Ludlow if travel restrictions end in mid or late season. We need to do everything we can to attract people to our town. Free parking will help us a lot.”
Tish Dockerty, Press Officer for the Chamber of Commerce, adds:
“We are a town of independent traders. Despite government grants, many of our retail businesses will face ruination if trade does not pick up quickly after the lockdown ends. Our winter season in Ludlow can be quiet, other than for Christmas. We rely on the extra footfall during the summer season and the people brought in by festivals to give businesses sufficient financial strength to survive the quiet of winter.”
Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North, which includes the town centre, said:
“The current arrangements for free parking end in June. Even if lockdown is over by then, it is unlikely that our town will spring instantaneously back to normal life. There may be partial social distancing restrictions in place for some time. We do not know. But one thing we do know is that free parking attracts people into rural towns. Shropshire Council will have to forgo some income but it will lose more in the long run if Ludlow’s independent retail economy is weakened.”
Email to Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting
The coronavirus emergency has hit the independent traders of Ludlow hard. Although government compensation has been made available, the seasonal pattern of trade has been significantly disrupted.
We had a silent Easter. The Spring Festival has been cancelled along with the Ludlow Green Festival, Ludlow Fringe and May Fair. The bustling life that makes Ludlow an enjoyable and distinctive place to shop and eat has fizzled out during the emergency. We are determined to make that temporary.
We do not know when restrictions on movement and distancing will end. But we do know how difficult it will be to cold start our town’s seasonal visitor and shopping cycle once Easter has passed.
In the coming weeks and months, we will no doubt have many discussions on ensuring our market town economies survive and thrive.
At this point, we request that Shropshire Council continues to provide free parking in Ludlow’s car parks until the end of the season, the end of October.
Early clarity on parking charges from Shropshire Council will allow us to promote our town and support our traders and independent businesses in unprecedented times.
Ludlow Town Council, Ludlow Chamber of Commerce, and the Shropshire Councillors for Ludlow and Clee.