Update. The cabinet agreed to introduce the holiday let parking scheme.

Holiday lets across Ludlow town centre have been losing bookings because visitors cannot park nearby. Once told they would have to park in one of the public car parks, often some way away, they have booked somewhere else where parking is more convenient. On Monday, Shropshire Council’s cabinet will consider a recommendation to allow each holiday let a single on-street parking permit. The decision must be made by cabinet because Ludlow Town Council has objected to the move, saying a wider range of businesses should have been included.

I disagree. This is a straightforward action that will help ensure the viability of holiday lets. These form a core part of Ludlow’s visitor economy. It will also promote access for people with physical and learning disabilities. Officers say this change would have little impact on parking in the town centre.

Update: Shropshire Council has now approved the permit scheme.

This was an issue we initially missed. During our extensive consultations on parking strategy during 2017 and 2018, the issue of parking for holiday lets was not raised. At that point, owners of holiday lets could purchase scratch card strips that their guests could use for on-street parking. Scratch permits were scrapped when the new parking strategy was introduced in November 2018.

We have been working since to correct the anomaly. In February, Shropshire Council launched a consultation on a traffic regulation order that would allow one on-street permit for each holiday let in the Red and Blue Zones.

There was, as might be expected, strong support for permits from the holiday let owners who has campaigned for the change. Only Ludlow Town Council objected:

“This proposal seems to specifically favour a small section of Ludlow’s business community, and Ludlow Town Council feels parking is a necessity for the majority of local businesses, and their customers. Ludlow’s visitor economy is very important to the town, and it includes B&Bs, guest houses, and hotels in Ludlow. However, these businesses are not mentioned in the parking order. It is unclear why other businesses offering accommodation have been omitted. There is no explanation of this omission in the Chamber of Trade [sic] representation.

“The Town Council believes that all accommodation providers require support, and there is a case for greater support for the local business that used to be able to purchase parking permits for business use.

“The proposal as it stands is not supportive of the diversity that Ludlow has to offer, and wishes to retain, and therefore the town council is unable to support this proposal.”

This recommendation led to an angry response from Ludlow Chamber of Commerce:

“We find it utterly incredulous that our own Town Council has objected to any kind of parking concession offered to the town from Shropshire Council. We are also astounded that during the eighteen or so months that this has been fought for, Ludlow councillors, who were involved in consultation at all times, raised no concerns as stated in the eleventh hour objection to Shropshire Council… this one objection makes no sense whatsoever. Having gained this concession, surely as a town we are in a better position to argue for wider concessions in the future.”

My view on the town council’s position is that it should have recognised that this is an easy win for Ludlow trade. Only one permit will be allowed for each holiday let and that will not add to parking pressure on Ludlow’s streets. But allowing multi-room businesses like hotels to apply for a permit for each letting would overcrowd our streets. We have gone as far as we can for now in allowing on-street parking in our historic town.

The recommendation before cabinet reads:

“It is recommended that, should the decision be approved, holiday let owners should be asked to provide feedback to the service area on numbers of people renting the properties with regard to those with physical or learning disabilities and /or caring responsibilities, for whom the location of the parking facilities is a significant consideration in terms of physical access. This will contribute to better understanding of any positive impacts in equality and social inclusion terms, which may then be replicable elsewhere.”

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