As part of the plans to reopen Ludlow town centre as the Covid-19 emergency eases, Ludlow Town Council, promoted by Shropshire Council, is proposing to pedestrianise King Street and High Street on Fridays and Saturdays. This will be an emergency measure to promote social distancing on our town’s narrow streets.
Experimental closures of roads can be brought in at a week’s notice without consultation by Shropshire Council. They can be withdrawn at any point, also without notice. The town council is not planning long term closures. Experimental closures can be in place for 18 months. During that period the highways authority, Shropshire Council, will consult residents and businesses about the impact of the closure.
Is this a good idea? Our town is not sure. Vote now! The poll closes at 6pm Monday.
There is no consensus around the town about closing King Street and High Street. Many retailers totally oppose any closures. Some residents and shoppers want King Street permanently closed seven days a week. In the discussion at last week’s town council meeting, even my fellow councillor Tracey Huffer and I could not agree. There is no consensus.
I’d like to hear your views. The vote below is only a straw poll but it will help us judge the feeling around the town about the plans.
There have been many debates on pedestrianising King Street over the last decade or more. But a small historic town like ours doesn’t have service roads behind the shops. Delivery vehicles must use the same streets as pedestrians. That has always thwarted any decision.
Many people have argued that deliveries should arrive before 10am as in other towns. Big shops in big towns like Shrewsbury can demand early deliveries. Ludlow is much lower down the logistics’ pecking order for deliveries. Our supermarkets and convenience stores have trucks rolling up early in the day. Small retailers and our independent businesses get their deliveries throughout the day. That’s why there is a good case for opposing any closure, even for five hours two days a week.
Buses will be diverted operating to and from the Compasses, the town bus service swinging around Weeping Cross, Temeside and Old Street as it approaches the town. The buses will serve the supermarkets shortly after departure from the Compasses. Will that disadvantage people with limited mobility that rely on buses to get to the market?
King Street can be overcrowded on a busy weekend. It has pinch points in The Narrows, especially outside Costa Coffee. People spill out into the road even when the street is not busy. It will not be easy to manage social distancing if vehicles are using the road when pedestrian numbers are high. That’s why there is a good case for pedestrianisation during peak shopping hours.
My view is that closing King Street and High Street on Friday will prevent retailers stocking up for the weekend. I would much prefer a closure on Saturday and Sunday. A Sunday closure would help boost trade on a quieter day. And that would promote social distancing by spreading trade more evenly across seven days a week.
But this blog is not about my view. We need to hear you views. Please vote!