“We have had a good discussion”. Those were the concluding remarks of the chair of Shropshire Council’s Place Overview Committee this morning. And with that, the scrutiny committee voted not to intervene in a parking policy that is set to damage our town. This means we will have the highest parking charges in the county outside Shrewsbury. And they will apply on-street in the town centre until 8pm. In all other market towns, charging will end at 6pm. These charges are being introduced, we were told, with the support of Ludlow residents.
Last month, Shropshire Council announced changes to parking charges across the county, including Ludlow. (See my earlier blog for the details.) Charges in the town centre will increase while charges for parking around the centre will generally fall. Time limits on parking will be abolished on the streets and in the car parks. This move, and the high charges on town centre streets, will damage local trade, as will reduction of free pop and shop parking to just five minutes.
Parking is among the most divisive issues in our county. Residents want restrictions and priority. Traders want flexibility. Shoppers and visitors want to park easily. Everyone wants the lowest charges, except Shropshire Council which needs to raise revenue to fund its highways work. Resolving the conflicting viewpoints means that there is good news in the council’s new parking strategy but also some bad news. Some parts of the policy don’t work for Ludlow at all.
Viv Parry, Tracey Huffer and myself have responded to Shropshire Council’s consultation on parking charges and length of stay.
We must balance the needs of car drivers with those without a car. The vitality of Ludlow depends on meeting the needs of traders and businesses. Residents need somewhere to park. Our town, which is set to see considerable expansion, must build its future around sustainable transport. Nothing else will work in a town enlivened and constrained by its historic fabric and environmental context.
Tomorrow night, Monday 9 October, Ludlow Town Council will meet to discuss its response to Shropshire Council’s parking proposals. It is unhappy with what Shropshire Council is proposing. The draft document says:
“The unique qualities of Ludlow, its distance from the County Town and the current destination of parking revenues mean that the temptation to treat the town as a ‘cash cow’ for the Unitary Council must be resisted at all costs.”