Month: May 2020

Covid Watch 51: Ludlow Market to reopen as a smaller social distanced market but no date set

Papers published by Ludlow Town Council on Friday pave the way to the reopening of Ludlow Market. Next Wednesday night, the council will discuss different layout options for the market (agenda). Officers are not setting out a preferred option and have not proposed a date for reopening the market. The papers suggest that a maximum of 14 stalls and one van will be able to operate. That is one third of the market’s normal capacity of 43 stalls and three vans. There could be as few as nine stalls under the options preferred by officers.

Covid Watch 50: The clock is ticking for Ludlow as government says outdoor markets can reopen from Monday

Boris Johnson announced last night that outdoor markets can reopen from next Monday, 1 June. By then, Ludlow Market will have been closed for ten weeks. He has put in place a countdown for the market reopening. It must reopen. The market is at the heart of our town centre. Ludlow is not Ludlow without its market. It will not thrive without a thriving market. There must be no further delays in the market reopening. The countdown to reopening outdoor markets has begun. Ludlow Market must reopen next week if our town is to bounce back beyond coronavirus.

Harp Lane ‘pothole’ repairs are a shambles and distract from our town’s heritage

It is good news that Shropshire Council has received an additional £11.6m of government pothole funding. It is good news that it has fixed around 3,500 potholes. But it is bad news that it has just slapped down crude tarmac repairs on Harp Lane defacing our historic town centre. And it hasn’t got on with other important town centre work we need done before we emerge from lockdown. Harp Lane is cobbled. Tarmac has no place. I am told the repairs are temporary. But as we know from the decaying state of the Grade II listed cobbles on Broad Street, Shropshire Council is not good at cobbles. I don’t think these repairs are an emergency and a decent job should have been done first time around.

Covid Watch 49: Ludlow as a socially distanced town – new signage to be discussed with Shropshire Council next week

We must get our town back into business. It’s going to be tough. We must move into unknown territory as a socially distanced town. Every business will need to adjust the way they work. We must allow cafes and pubs to spill into our streets. Allow businesses to sell their wares from tables on their frontage. Some streets should be closed at weekends and public holidays. The market must reopen. A lot of decisions need to be made. First up will be new signage. A street meeting of officers and councillors on Tuesday afternoon will look at locations for up to 155 new signs around the town ordering people to keep apart. That is a huge number of signs for Ludlow. It is a lot of clutter. It could feel intimidating in a town known for its friendliness. A better model would be gateway signs, with a small number of repeaters. We need signs telling people they are welcome in a socially distanced town. And carefully placed reminders emphasising this is a socially distanced town.

It has taken a little while to get new systems in place to pay government grant money to local businesses. But matters seem to have been resolved. Except the biggest issue. More than 1,500 businesses have not yet applied for the money. A minority of these may not be eligible for grants under EU rules. But it is still puzzling that one in five Shropshire businesses had not made a claim by last Wednesday. Up the road in Telford and Wrekin, almost all businesses have received the money they are due. That is an extraordinary difference. I can’t explain it. Shropshire Council needs now to go into overdrive to ensure that all businesses eligible for funding get the money they are due.

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