Ludlow Buttercross – an ace museum with a nice town attached

Last night saw the official opening of Ludlow Museum at the Buttercross. It is fair to say that this project has taken much longer to bring to fruition than anyone thought it might. But it now looks likely that the museum will be fully open from mid-August. That’s good news because this is a great little museum.

This Saturday, 30 July, the museum is hosting a free public open day from 11am to 3pm. It will be well worth paying a visit.

I like this museum. I like the way the exhibits have been displayed. I like that the exhibition area is not overcrowded.

I like the entrance price – £1 for adults and 50p for children over five.

Continue reading “Ludlow Buttercross – an ace museum with a nice town attached”

Ludlow Teme education centre proposed by Severn Rivers Trust – it looks a great idea

There’s a plan to build a new education centre on the Teme at Dinham. It’s really exciting.

When I first heard of these plans, I wasn’t certain how this scheme would work. We don’t have much space available at Dinham and, instinctively, it is not a place to be putting up more buildings. After meeting Mike Morris, deputy director of the Severn Rivers Trust on site last week, I am thrilled by the idea. This could be a new tourist attraction as well as an education centre.

The idea is to build an education centre on the west bank of the Teme near Dinham weir. This site is currently an unmanaged field. It has a degree of biodiversity but is otherwise rough vegetation.

Continue reading “Ludlow Teme education centre proposed by Severn Rivers Trust – it looks a great idea”

Tourism team axed as Shropshire Council turns its back on one of our biggest industries

There is a more than a little bit of Orwellian doublespeak in last week’s press statement from Shropshire Council:

Shropshire Council to continue to invest in the tourism sector.

By ‘continue to invest’ it means that it is halving the number of tourism posts from two to one.

Shropshire Council is turning its back on tourism as an industry. Continue reading “Tourism team axed as Shropshire Council turns its back on one of our biggest industries”

Shropshire Council wraps up Ludlow’s tourist information cuts as “exciting times ahead”

The master of spin was Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s media supremo who issued the dodgy dossier on Iraq. But Campbell is now being challenged.

This morning Shropshire Council made a bid for Campbell’s title as spin master supreme. It issued a press release on changes to the Tourist Information service at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms claiming that vicious cutbacks are “exciting times”.

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for leisure, libraries and culture, said:

“There are exciting times ahead for Ludlow Assembly Rooms and the Buttercross. It is great that we are able to work with the Trustees and the Town Council to secure a bright future and continue to offer valued services to visitors and locals alike.”

I have read some rubbish press releases in my time but this amongst the very worst.

The news about the Buttercross restoration and museum is not news. We have had a lengthy row about getting the funding for the Buttercross back that Shropshire Council once awarded, cancelled, re-awarded, procrastinated over and then gave back to the town council. There can be no better exemplar of this council’s love of pettifogging bureaucracy than this.

The Buttercross is a great project and I fully support it. I don’t support the way the Shropshire Council today is trying to attract glory for a project it so nearly wrecked.

The rest of the press release on the visitor information centre is utter nonsense. Gwilym Butler says there are “exciting times ahead.” Yeh, that’s as exciting as stepping off a cliff.

What has happened is that Butler has slaughtered the budget for tourist information in Ludlow. The new service will be stretched to the limits. It will not be able to book bed and breakfast. It will struggle to provide the level of advice that is essential to a tourist town likes ours.

I have no objection to merging tourist advice with the box office for Ludlow Assembly Rooms. But there has to be enough money to support a decent tourist information service, just as there is in Shrewsbury. We are not going to get that money.

In the same press release the Chair of the Trustees of Ludlow Assembly Rooms, said:

“All of us, Shropshire Council, Ludlow Town Council and Ludlow Assembly Rooms must keep working closely to deliver this challenging set of changes.”

Does that sound like exciting times ahead? No. They are the cautious words of someone squeezed between a rock and a hard place that has to cooperate with its funder.

The reason that this “exciting” cut is happening is that Shropshire Council does not understand the value of the tourist economy to the county.

There is not much money around, but failing to invest in tourism jobs is an own goal.

There is regrettably no up-to-date information on the value of the tourism in the county. The last survey was a decade ago when tourism was estimated to be worth £116.7m across South Shropshire and supported 3,500 jobs. Since 2005, food, B&B, pubs and heritage projects have grown. Tourism will be worth a lot more than £177m now.

But Shropshire Council is not interested in economic growth. All it cares about is budget cuts.

Money is short, everyone is getting used to being fed crumbs. But to dress up significant cuts to the visitor information centre in Ludlow as “exciting times ahead” is more than dodgy. It’s dishonest.

Alastair Campbell would be proud of Shropshire Council’s press release today.