Ludlow unitary councillors are calling for an immediate suspension of the night time crackdown on parked vehicles in Ludlow town centre. Since the 5 July 2016, Shropshire Council’s civil enforcement officers have issued more than one hundred penalty charge notices (PCNs) after 6pm. The crackdown has caught offenders blocking access. We welcome that. But it has also penalised tourists who are not sure where to park and residents who have parked at the same location in the town centre for years. This heavy hand approach, initiated without any discussion with local representatives, is in danger of damaging the evening economy of the town.
The councillors, Andy Boddington, Tracey Huffer and Vivienne Parry, a calling for a halt to the current enforcement campaign, except where people are parking dangerously or impeding disabled access.
We want a review of how best to tackle evening parking problems in Ludlow. This must be backed up by an information campaign so that people know where they can park without fear of a ticket. We need better signage and better lighting to ensure that people feel comfortable parking and walking in our town in the evening.
In the last few months, Shropshire Council has issued hundreds of tickets to people who have parked in the town centre after 6pm. We were expecting a crackdown on vehicles that are parked badly. That includes people that park in the approach to Quality Square. These drivers could stop emergency vehicles getting access to properties in the square and in College Court.
But no one knew that Shropshire Council was planning to crackdown on every minor infringement and issue so many fines.”
This is Shropshire Council at its most frustrating. It is just issuing fines without trying to get any local understanding on what is going on Ludlow and what the problems are.
At the council’s instigation, we set up a transport forum, In and Out of Ludlow (IOL), a year and a half ago. The parking issue should have been discussed at that forum and a strategy drawn up to address it. But Shropshire Council decided to proceed without discussions with IOL or Ludlow Town Council.
The council claims to be working in collaboration with town and parish councils. It says it is having a Big Conversation with people in Shropshire. But when it comes to parking, Shropshire Council has shown that it is not interested in talking to anyone. This is the same old arrogant Shirehall, doing what it wants regardless of the local consequences.”
This has been a tough year for Ludlow. We have had Ludford Bridge closed for months. Now we have this heavy handed operation to fine people for parking in places where they have been parking for years. We need to keep this town alive in the evenings. People causing an obstruction should be penalised but we need a bit of give and take.
Shropshire Council should be working hand in hand with Ludlow Town Council and the Chamber of Trade to promote Ludlow’s economy.
As councillors, we believe the solution lies in engaging with local people and visitors, not slapping fines on them. People don’t know where they can park. We asked two years ago for the yellow lines approaching Quality Square to be repainted. No action has been taken. We need improvements to lighting too, so that people feel comfortable walking from the town car parks.
We want the current punitive enforcement regime to stop. We should draw up a new approach that welcomes people into our town at night. An approach that says that Ludlow is open for business in the evenings. That means better signage, clearer lines on the street and better lighting. Once we get that in place, we can talk about a more measured approach to enforcement in our town.