In a press release today on last week’s changes to car parking in Ludlow, Shropshire Council said:
“Early indications are that the changes have had a positive impact and been well received. Initial observations indicate a noticeable shift from on-street to off-street parking — in line with the aims of the strategy – plus positive feedback from residents about the reduction in parking congestion and ability to park close to their homes.”
You cannot judge a parking scheme based on a seven-day period during which the weather was often poor. A seven-day period when town centre roads were closed over the weekend for the Medieval Fayre.
I have heard town centre residents say that they have found it easier to park. Traders have also said that trade dipped. Both effects could have been down to the weather last week. Ludlow’s trade is heavily dependent on both visitors and locals. Many people don’t turn out to shop and explore when the weather is poor.
It is rubbish for Shropshire Council to say that the changes are helping to reduce congestion without a shred of evidence. Anyway, what congestion? Slow traffic, yes. Arkward manouvering is frequent on our town centre streets. But “congestion” as the rest of the world understands congestion is not a word that applies to Ludlow.
Shropshire Council is fighting hard to justify its new parking regime just a week after it was introduced. I don’t know why it was in a panic today. It should relax. The Traffic Regulation Order that governs the new scheme is in place and it can’t be changed any time soon.
The council’s cabinet has agreed two reviews of the new countywide parking strategy. The first is due next May. That won’t help us much in Ludlow. It will only cover the winter period and I doubt it will show more than the impact of the weather.
I am looking forward to the second review in November 2019. That is expected to examine how the new parking regime has operated over the full year.
It will only be at that point that can we make a judgement on the impact of the new parking charges. Only then will we know whether they benefit or damage the interests of residents, traders and workers. We will not have a hope of judging the impact the new charges have had on congestion until a full year has passed. We need a full seasonal cycle of commerce, weather, events and festivals.
Shropshire Council should stop claiming that the new parking regime has worked without citing any numerical evidence whatsoever. It should stop firing press releases from the hip. It must calm down and relax. It should wait for the planned review of the parking strategy next November.