Month: October 2014

That’s it. The Ludlow Arts Festival has gone – for 2015 at least. As the Ludlow Advertiser and Shropshire Star report, it is not commercially viable. Chris Davis, the festival organiser tells the newspapers that Ludlow Castle and Ludlow Arts Festival Ltd have decided that: “The scale of events they wish to stage are not commercially viable for either party.” It’s a shame because festivals bring a lot of people to this town and that helps our economy. But the Fringe festival is still set to go ahead. That’s good, especially as it’s more affordable and accessible than the main festival. Maybe the main festival will be revived. I hope so. But even if that doesn’t happen, we at least have the Fringe. After all, it’s the fringe that makes news in Edinburgh, not the main festival. And who cares that it can’t technically be a fringe unless it’s peripheral to something. The fringe in Edinburgh would survive and thrive without the main festival and so will ours. There will be public meeting to discuss the 2015 Fringe on Thursday, October 30, 7.30pm at Ludlow Brewery.

It was a private meeting so I can’t name the Tory councillor that asked: “Surely there are no poor people in Ludlow?” I suspect that she had never been beyond Mill Street [1]. Those of us that know this town intimately recognise that affluent people live cheek by jowl with people who struggle to make ends meet. That’s part of the character of the town. It’s a place where we have the wealth to keep our historic buildings in good order but also need to run a food bank. The seventh most deprived area in Shropshire is here in Ludlow, but other areas are rated as among the least deprived anywhere in England.

Recently a local councillor told a meeting that more than half of the residents in Ludlow are aged 65 or over. A short while later, a resident said that two-thirds of people here are over 65. Neither of these statements is anywhere near the truth. The true statistic from the 2011 census is that 27% of residents were 65 or over. That’s not much above a quarter of residents. Now a question. Which area in Shropshire has the oldest population? It proves to be my division of Ludlow North by a long way. In the graph below, the higher the bar, the higher the proportion of people 65 years of age or older. That’s us on the right, the most elderly electoral division in Shropshire. (Click the graph to get a bigger image, which is from LGA Inform). More than a third of people in the Ludlow North area are 65 or over (33.5%). That’s much more than Ludlow as a whole (27%), Shropshire (21%) and England (16%). But, again, it’s nowhere near half the population. This data is important when it comes to health policy and a whole range of decisions. It also explains why we have such an…

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Unemployment levels have more than halved in the last 18 months across the Ludlow constituency. That’s very good news. Youth unemployment is falling too. And we have much lower unemployment than many areas around us and the UK as a whole. What we need to concentrate on now is the quality of jobs. Let’s do a few numbers and a few caveats. Across Ludlow parliamentary constituency, today’s statistics show that the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance is down to 519 people. That is still a lot of people, but it’s just 1.3% of the working population. Nationally, 2.9% of the working population are on Jobseekers.

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