The lead story on the frontpage of last Thursday’s Ludlow Advertiser featured the Ludlow10 race on 9 July. I have never read anything that so fails to represent the views of our town. The article is based on a non-existent survey. It claims to represent the views of Ludlow town centre residents but only one is cited. The resident who was the main source for the article said, “the town was dead” on the night of the race. Nonsense. I was in town from 5.30pm until 10pm. The town was livelier than normal.
We can’t afford to let this town die just because a very small number of town centre residents want to dictate how businesses and events are run.
There is almost nothing I can agree with in this article. Too much is made up or bizarre. The “creep of chain stores” in Ludlow is blamed on “raising the profile of the town.” That argument makes no sense. We read that a “growing number of residents believe that the town has reached saturation point and require no more profile raising.” That’s unquantified. It is not what I hear from most residents in and beyond the town centre.
It is true that some residents are uncomfortable with living in a town centre that has an evening and night life. Of course, noise and antisocial behaviour must be controlled. But a town centre that dies at 6pm in the evening will lose its soul. And it will lose many of the businesses that attract visitors if they don’t get the footfall.
Ludlow is not a retirement settlement. Neither is it a place where residents can presume to know how business should be conducted. We will always be compromising between the needs of people who live in the town centre and those that come to enjoy themselves. We got that compromise right on the night of the Ludlow10 race.
The response on Facebook to the Ludlow Advertiser article has been amazing with near universal support for events of this type from both businesses and residents.
Yesterday, the proprietors of four town centre pubs wrote to the media saying they were not contacted before the story was published:
We were surprised and concerned to read the story on the frontpage of the Ludlow Advertiser on 27 July. The article and headline suggested that businesses in Ludlow Town Council had suffered during the Ludlow10 race that evening…
We are the proprietors of four pubs and restaurants in the centre of Ludlow, as well as bed and breakfast accommodation. We know that our trade on that evening was as good as usual and for some of us, rather better. We know from other landlords that they did not lose trade that night.
The Ludlow10 race created a tremendous atmosphere in the town. It drew in more than three hundred runners, along with hundreds more supporters and well-wishers. Our town centre streets are often quiet in the evening. On that Saturday, they were buzzing…
Events like Ludlow10 promote our town and bring people into Ludlow who spend money. If the residents of Ludlow want a town where they have a choice of where to eat and drink, and where people have jobs, we need to attract visitors…
We would welcome the race back next year. Events like this are good for our town.
Cedric Bosi, Proprietor, The Church and The Charlton Arms
Gary Seymour and Karl Heber-Smith, Proprietors, The Rose and Crown
Jane and Tim Vaughan, Proprietors, The Queens
This was not the only reaction to the article. On Facebook, Adam Tutt, landlord of the Blue Boar and Chang Thai, said:
“I feel saddened that the [Ludlow Advertiser] article infers our opinions without asking us. This town should not be wrapped in mothballs to die a slow death. It needs vitality and life for all residences and business based on consideration, understanding and empathy.”
Also on Facebook, The Queens said:
“The Queens would like to make it clear that at no time has the management discussed the effect of the recent ‘Ludlow10’ race… with Mrs Juliet Diamond… We therefore have no understanding of how she can have any knowledge of any financial implications of the race on our business. We would like to make it clear that we encourage any event that brings people into the town as we are reliant on these events for our livelihood.”
Henry Mackley who runs the Harp Lane Deli said:
“I would just like to add my voice from both a personal and business… point of view: although we were closed at the time of the run, these type of events only bring positivity to our town. They bring people in who would not normally visit Ludlow and for local residents it brings our community together which can only be a good thing. Whether food festivals, May fairs, fun runs, whatever, these events make people FEEL HAPPY. For the small amount of inconvenience caused (road closures etc) this is a very tiny price to pay. I think I speak on behalf of the majority of residents and business owners of Ludlow in saying hurrah and bravo for these wonderful events that enrich our town!”
Paul Dazemorr chairs the Ludlow Market Traders Committee:
“On behalf of the Ludlow Market Traders I would like to say that with the slight adjustment of timing that took place in no way did it effect trading on the market. With visitors arriving ahead of time it possibly gave extra footfall in the town late afternoon. Ludlow market traders welcome any activity which encourages visitors to the town.”
Tish Dockerty runs Ludlow Chamber of Commerce:
“Stunning that the Advertiser gives up its front page to the very biased views of a local resident. Ludlow Chamber of Trade did not receive any complaints from members regarding low trading on that particular evening. I’m sure the town benefitted far more from attendees staying over and spending time in the town. We welcome new events in Ludlow, especially those that are for local young people as well as people from out of town.”
And here a few more Facebook comments:
Elaine: “Ludlow has to reinvent itself and attract young and old alike and attract investment. I think the race was a positive thing. It should happen again but maybe with better consultation and agreed benefit to the town.”
Georgina: “This is fake news at its finest.”
Lindsey: “We need more, not less events, like this to create a lively and vibrant Ludlow and to encourage more young people and their families to live and work here.”
Gillian: “Well actually, the Thai Bar was packed after the race, a group of us went for a post race drink, so can’t understand at what time they were presumably referring to when they were supposedly ‘canvassed’? Ludlow 10 was great fun, couple of glitches but it was the inaugural event after all and the organisers seem very open to positive feedback. What a great shame there always has to be someone who takes it upon themselves to offer negative opinions. Roll on next year, will definitely do it again.”
There are dozens of more comments and hundreds of likes online.