As I explained this morning, Shropshire Council had made something of a mess of introducing road closures to promote social distancing in Ludlow.
Today, the council issued a press release, which I copy below. This abandons any idea of closing High Street at any point. It also abandons the idea that King Street should be closed seven days 10am to 3pm. The closure would only be on Friday and Saturday. The press release says this is “following concerns raised by local councillors and the town council”. That’s spin worthy of Alastair Campbell.
It is now clear that despite two town council meetings formally agreeing Friday and Saturday closure only, Shropshire Council decided that it would go for a seven day closure regardless. It was only under pressure over three days that Shropshire Council backed down.
This has been an extraordinary episode that has undermined our town’s confidence in Shropshire Council’s highways managers. But at least we have got back to the position we agreed. (Though the town council twice voted to close High Street as well as King Street, a position that it has now abandoned.)
We need to see how this closure goes. It is an experimental traffic regulation order (see my previous article) and can be changed or withdrawn at any time.
It is welcome to see Ludlow Market, the main retail attraction in the town centre, back in action. Inevitably, trade has been mostly down since its reopening. Messages from traders and from customers have a common theme. People don’t know which traders will be there. Traders don’t know whether they can secure their regular pitch. There is not enough footfall or goods on offer to make it worth trading or buyers venturing out. The market is not being promoted. Social distancing is extreme rather than practical. Some traders who were on Post Office Square at the entrance to the market, feel isolated at Events Square by the castle.
But the market is still worth a visit and we all need patience as our town gets remerges into the “new normal” and one day gets back to normal as we once knew it. If you can, please come out to shop.
We have a lot to learn. We need to learn lessons quickly on roads, shops, markets and behaviour if our town is to thrive after shutdown.
Shropshire press release
Closure between 10am and 3pm on Friday and Saturday. Pedestrianisation/re-allocation of road space.
Date of work: from Friday 26 June
Note: A traffic regulation order (TRO) had been agreed for the closure of High Street and King Street in Ludlow from 10am to 3pm every day. However, following concerns raised by local councillors and the town council we have agreed that the closure should be just King Street, and from 10am to 3pm on Friday and Saturday only. The TRO for the proposed closure of High Street and King Street will now be withdrawn and an order raised for the revised King Street closure.