There is an air of excitement around Ludlow. The May Fair rolls in on Wednesday night. It is the highlight of the year for many people in the town. The arrival of the fair means the town centre will be closed from Thursday to Monday – High Street, the Market area and the top of Mill Street.
But there is bad news from the crew repairing Ludford Bridge. Work will not be finished before next weekend as planned. That could mean the bridge is closed over one of the busiest weekends in Ludlow’s calendar.
I spoke to highways engineers yesterday and we’ll meet up with them early next week. I’ve asked that the scaffolding is removed before the weekend and the bridge reopened. If necessary, some scaffolding might need to be re-erected after the weekend. That request was made late yesterday and I am waiting for a reply.
The difficulty is that removal and reinstatement of the scaffolding will cost money. We may not be able to land an extra cost like this on the insurers of the tarmac driver who hit the bridge on his way to Tesco.
My view is that we should take the risk that we might not be able to reclaim the extra costs. We need to open the bridge on such an important weekend.
Before and over Easter, there were long delays on Station Drive due to the extra traffic diverted from Ludford Bridge. At times, the park and ride service was reduced to one bus an hour. Traffic flow over Easter was not helped by roadworks on Temeside. But we can still expect traffic build up next weekend.
The closure of the bridge, the delays to buses and the traffic delays are not good for a town like Ludlow. We need to get the message across that Ludlow is open for business and it is a great place to come to. If we don’t, our sixty or so independent retailers in the town centre will lose trade. If we lose our independent businesses, the character of our town will change irrevocably. That will damage our visitor economy and Ludlow will be less of a special place.
That’s why I think it is worth opening the bridge for the May bank holiday weekend, even if it has to close for a while afterwards.
I’ll post another update on the bridge closure and options for reopening early next week.