Last Wednesday evening, Councillor Tim Gill was installed as the new mayor of Ludlow at the Assembly Rooms. Anyone who knows Tim, knows that when he speaks about local issues, he tells it as it is. His inaugural speech was no different.
Mayor Gill said taking on services from Shropshire Council remained a challenge for the town council. He condemned the council’s continuing clampdown on evening parking in the town centre and the planned closure of Brand Lane for three days.
Mayor Gill said he was proud to follow in the footsteps of his father who was mayor of the town in the 1980s. He told the assembled company:
“Other town councils across the country are often surprised to learn how small Ludlow is because it has such a huge reputation. That’s thanks to its excellent Food Festival, local organisations, creative culture and impressive historic heritage.”
“The town council is proud to be a part of Ludlow’s success. But we are not complacent nor pretend to have all the answers.”
He then turned to the challenges to our town from Shropshire Council’s cost cutting and the pressure it is putting on towns like Ludlow to take over services.
“Towns in Shropshire and across the country are facing significant challenges. Even with the change in leadership of Shropshire and the slightly more positive tones coming from Councillor Nuttall, the next year and years are to be a difficult and controversial time for the town council. We will have to rely increasingly on our own resources as Shropshire Council continues to abandon more services.
“Pressure is already on Ludlow to take more on. The town council, in my opinion, will not be able to afford to take them all on. But what should or should not be taken on will prove to be a thorny question. Not only because of cost but also because some of our friends in villages bordering the town will have closer access to town services they are not contributing to, than some towns folk.”
Tim Gill said he looked forward to the town council being able to progress the work on the Guildhall, damaged by rain water, and the town wall. He then tackled parking issues in the town centre, Shropshire Council’s continuing parking clampdown and planning authorities for road closures:
“Parking remains a thorny issue and it is difficult not to see the Tuesday evening swoop on parking in the centre as little more than a cash raising activity. I have no sympathy with cars blocking access to Quality Square and the like, but the Tuesday swoop is getting ridiculous.”
“Equally, the parking on Events Square needs sorting out, particularly during day time hours when it is increasingly looking like a free designated car park and blighting the visual impact of that part of town; and getting in the way of the festivals and cultural events that makes our town attractive to tourists.”
“However, a much more immediate concern is the closure of Brand Lane for three days from Monday 5 to 7 June. Ludlow is a long way from Shrewsbury and this is sometimes evident in the decision making of Shropshire Council. I hope our traffic enforcement officers will be around for those 3 days to sort out the chaos that will ensue and which the highways and transport team in Shrewsbury seem oblivious to. The proposed rerouting of coaches and lorries along Dinham, over the bridge and then up and around Whitcliffe may look sound on paper but that tight bend with its uneven camber will cause a lot of problems. I just hope we do not end up with the Broad Gate being damaged by jammed lorries.”
Mayor Gill spoke about the town and its council:
“One of the real strengths of the town council is the diverse range of councillors sitting round the table. In our decision making, the council needs people to bring all the core elements of Ludlow into the mix.
- Ludlow has a strong tourism based economy and must continue to attract visitors
- But Ludlow is more than its pretty town centre
- And not everyone in Ludlow is rich
- The council realises that the whole town needs to continue to work together for our future success.
The town council has a part to play, we are an active organisation that makes a real contribution in Ludlow. We need to co-opt three people who are prepared to make decisions and do real work for the benefit of the town. Co-option to the town council is open to all eligible residents.”
The next full town council meeting is on 19 June. The Representational Committee meets on 31 May. Both meetings are at 7pm in the Guildhall. The public have an opportunity to make short representations to the council at the beginning of both meetings.