Shropshire Council’s chaotic scrutiny meeting ignored the 18% downturn in trade since parking charges were hiked in Ludlow

On 5 June, the Performance Management Scrutiny Committee met to discuss the controversial changes to parking charges. Committee papers were sent out just 26 hours before. I doubt that all committee members had read all ten documents. Officers also sprung a huge amount of crammed onto overcrowded slides on a hard to see screen. I am not convinced that any member of the committee was adequately briefed for the decisions they were to make. Certainly not the chair of the committee who was unaware that officers had proposed a series of recommendations.

The committee and officers seemed to be oblivious to the evidence gathered by Ludlow Town Council that shows independent trade is down by 18% in the first few months of this year compared to last year despite the milder weather.  

The committee agreed to review the extent of the Red and Blue Zones. Residents with on-street permits will be able to park in car parks and may also be able to apply for a second permit. Owners of a holiday let will be able to apply for an on-street parking permit for guests. Tickets purchased on a phone will be 10p cheaper.

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Shropshire Council reconsiders bus cuts – that’s good news but we await the details

Update

On 12 June, the Cabinet agreed the following:

Local Bus Services

  • To not implement the reduction or removal of services as consulted, but where the consultation feedback has highlighted genuine efficiencies or cost pressures those will be focussed upon.  
  • To amend the Council’s 2019/20 budget and reduce the planned reduction in the public transport budget from £405,000 to £180,000.

Future Public Transport Services

  • To commence a review of the current operation and future opportunities for, improved public transport services across Shropshire, including reviewing concessionary travel and the opportunities for bus franchising.

The Cabinet also recommended increases on some Shrewsbury park and ride charges but deferred other increases until they have been reviewed.

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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.

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It’s time Shropshire Council and the police commissioner stopped window dressing on road safety and took determined action

Shropshire Council has teamed up with the West Mercia police commissioner to launch a road safety initiative. A free driver awareness course is on offer. A drop-in session will be held at Ludlow Mascall Centre on Monday 8 July, 5pm to 7pm. Details of the Road Focus sessions.

Anything that might improve road safety is important. But the record of the council and commissioner on road safety initiatives is poor. Neither supports a 20mph limit on all residential streets in the county. Safety schemes outside schools have been delayed indefinitely.

If we slow traffic in an already slow county, we will reduce both the risk and severity of injury. That would achieve more than four drop-in sessions and a single awareness course. This sadly looks like little more than a PR exercise from a council and commissioner that want to show they are working on road safety without investing in making our roads safer.

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Today is the last day to give your views on Shropshire Council’s unsustainable slash and burn cuts to bus services

Shropshire Council has been consulting on drastic cuts to local bus services. The council is only concerned with saving £455,000 – plus an unspecified saving on concessionary fares. This is a slash and burn exercise driven by a council that doesn’t have a strategy for the future of public transport in the county.

The proposals will cut Bishop’s Castle off except for the school run. It is bad news for sustainable transport in Shrewsbury with a substantial hike in park and ride costs. In Ludlow, the popular 701 town service will be cut by a third.

These cuts will disproportionately disadvantage older and vulnerable people, along with those of limited mobility. Shropshire Council has failed to assess the impact of the cuts on people, communities and the environment.

Buses are a social service. By providing access to medical, retail and social facilities, they promote health and wellbeing. That lowers costs elsewhere in public sector, including the care sector and the NHS.

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