Month: March 2013

There’s a sense of excitement about snow. We listen avidly to any news report that might predict an imminent fall. The moment there is rumour of a local flake, we stare out of the window. The phone rings. “Is it settling where you are?” “Yes,” you reply before tweeting: “#uksnow Ludlow 8/10 – a real blizzard here.” As soon as they are allowed, the kids are out snowballing, sliding and – if it’s the right sort of snow – making snowmen. But the return of snow so late in March has been more than unwelcome. It’s bad for Ludlow’s tourist industry – numbers were seriously down last year, hit by the miserable weather. The town was almost deserted last Saturday and Sunday. The problem is compounded because it’s hard for residents to get into town along the icy pavements. Only a car drivers have their way cleared by the councils. A tractor completes clearance of Ludlow road but the pavements remain snowbound Most the buses ran last Saturday (thanks guys!), but many people could not get to the bus stop because the pavements were lethally icy. And of course, car drivers have to pay to park on the streets on…

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Among the tangle of announcements in Wednesday’s Budget was a statement to cheer the heart of real ale drinkers everywhere. As the Chancellor announced it: “We will now scrap the beer duty escalator altogether. And instead of the 3p rise in beer duty tax planned for this year I am cancelling it altogether. That’s the freeze people have been campaigning for. But I’m going to go one step further and I am going to cut beer duty by 1p. We’re taking a penny off a pint. The cut will take effect this Sunday night and I expect it to be passed on in full to customers.” George Osborne is of course entirely naïve in believing that a one penny cut in the price of a £3 pint will be passed on to the customers. How do you make a 1p cut to a commodity priced in 10p units? But expecting that level of reality from a Chancellor of Exchequer these days is perhaps far too much. Beer is so important here in Shropshire. Around 4,800 are employed in our 651 pubs, and many more in our 18 breweries. They underpin much of the tourist industry – not only by serving…

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The councillor sat alone in the witness box looking across the court, looking at times as though he had been brought there for trial. Several times during the meeting, he might well have been justified in thinking that was the case. Ludlow Town Council’s meetings take place in the historic eighteenth century Magistrates Court, a building like so much of Ludlow steeped in history. Was history made as this meeting? Only time will tell but last night might just have marked the beginning of the end of the Sunday car parking charges debacle. The former Magistrates Court was packed out for the meeting, which also saw excellent presentations for Ludlow Car Club and Ludlow in Bloom. The evening sparked into life when Rai Fisher stood in the jury box to speak on behalf of many of the town traders. Her voice cracked with anger as she read out a list of charges, accusing Martin Taylor-Smith and his co-defendants Rosanna Taylor-Smith and Shropshire Council of imposing the scheme against local wishes. Rai told the assembly that more than 1,000 signatures had been collected against the scheme. Informing the courtroom that visitor numbers to Ludlow are down 30%, she pleaded that “Ludlow…

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Few can have missed the main story in town over the last ten days. Ludlow’s town walls are falling down, or at least a substantial section has fallen and is under threat of falling. Fortunately we have a responsive council. Shropshire Council organised an immediate response, making safe collapsed areas and shoring up areas under threat of further collapse. Shropshire is fortunate is having heritage expert Colin Richards as its Historic Environment Manager at a time when many local authorities are making their heritage teams redundant. Hiring in consultants can be no substitute for having in-house expertise.

Letter published in the South Shropshire Journal 1 March 2013 It seems that Ludlow’s almost new police station is to close and the police are to move into offices elsewhere in the town. We should view this proposal with caution. We need a police station close to the town centre where the majority of crime and antisocial behaviour occurs. But there are few buildings in our historic town centre that could host a police station. The constant arrival and departure of police cars would also be very disruptive for shoppers during the day and residents at night. There are few obvious buildings in the rest of the town. There is a danger that the new station will be out on the Eco Park, much as Leominster’s station is way out of town on the Enterprise Park. An out of town station will be hard for people to visit and will delay response time to disturbances. We would be likely to see even fewer police walking through the streets. The crime rate in the town is already above the average for West Mercia. We need to ensure that we have continue to have a strong and effective policing presence in the…

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