Business rate relief good news for Ludlow and Shropshire’s market towns

Chancellor Philip Hammond yesterday afternoon announced a significant but temporary reduction in business rates for smaller retail businesses.

This is good news for market towns like Ludlow. For the next two years, the Chancellor’s statement will reduce crippling business rate bills by around £500,000 over the next two years in Ludlow. We are a town with more than 70 independent retailers. That money will help local businesses survive. It will be pumped back into Ludlow’s economy.

The news of a tax on digital retailers is also good news. Our high streets are not in competition with the internet giants but they should not be left at a disadvantage because of the business rate burden they face.

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Oswestry and Shrewsbury get most of Shropshire Council’s investment cash – Ludlow gets a few crumbs

Numbers dug out by a Bridgnorth resident reveal that the north of the county gets the lion’s share of Shropshire Council’s capital investment. The spend per head in Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Market Drayton is ten times as high as in Ludlow. We get barely more than a quarter of the money that goes to Bridgnorth. Ludlow has gained just 1% of the capital spend across the county.

This is not for want of trying. In May, us unitary councillors submitted a proposal for investment in Ludlow to Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting. Three months later he has still not found time to come to our town to discuss it.

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Traders vans to be banned from parking in town centre without paying full rates

Currently market traders can purchase a waiver to allow all day parking in the town centre car parks. In a consultation slipped out announced, Shropshire Council is to withdraw all waivers. Traders will need to pay £1 an hour, £1.80 an hour on street. Or park outside the town centre. Anyone who has run a market stall single handed will know that is not practical. The danger is that traders will be put off coming to our market.

I have received one comment in on this already: “Is the Council trying to kill off the market. Are they economic illiterates?”

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Social mobility in Shropshire is in free fall – we are failing young people

It is not a surprise that the remaining members of the government’s Social Mobility Commission have resigned this weekend.[1] Anger has been growing for months that the government has been distracted from improving individual lives by the demands of Brexit.

Shropshire is one of the worst areas in England for young people to get out of the trap of struggling households and poor education. Last week, the county was ranked the 237th worst out of 324 local authorities for social mobility.[2] Just a year before, we were at rank 185. We have skidded downwards.

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What is the future for our county? The big plan debate. Ludlow, 30 November 2017

The Ludlow and Clee Local Joint Committee (LJC) is to hold a special meeting on 30 November to discuss Shropshire Council’s draft local plan. This sets out ambitious policies to expand housing and employment across the county.

Ludlow councillor Andy Boddington is chairman of the LJC, says:

“This opportunity to debate our ideas about the future of the county. Shropshire Council’s new plans aim for economic growth and building nearly 1,500 homes a year across the county. Much of this will be in the north and east of the county but we also need to work out what is best for the more rural areas, including Ludlow.”

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