The last seven days have not been Shropshire Council’s finest hours. Especially for its highway’s managers. Last Thursday or thereabouts, it issued an experimental traffic regulation order closing King Street and High Street every day of the week between 10am and 3pm. On Friday afternoon it issued a press release confirming the closure from Monday morning.

Only yesterday afternoon, did highway’s managers admit that the experimental TRO was wrong. We had agreed closure on Fridays and Saturdays during the middle of the day. And only for King Street. Not for High Street. Not for Sunday to Thursday. The result of the confusion is that the agreed King Street road closure, Friday and Saturday, 10am to 3pm, will not be in place until next week.

King Street in better times

I haven’t seen a mess in years. Following an undocumented meeting between Shropshire Council and Ludlow Town Council, Ludlow’s Representational Committee agreed to a closure of both King Street and High Street on Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 3pm. A meeting of the full council endorsed the recommendation the following day.

At some point in the last seven days, Shropshire Council issued an experimental TRO declaring that both streets would be closed for seven days a week from 17 June. As far I can see, it did not publish this. But it issued a press release stating:

High Street/King Street: Closure between 10am and 3pm each day, with diversion route along Old Street, Ludford Bridge, Whitcliffe Road and Dinham. Pedestrianisation/re-allocation of road space.
Date of work: Monday 15 June

The press release was not shared before it was issued. If it had been the error made by the highways department would have been picked up.

Three days of confusion followed. The few responses we received didn’t add up to very much. Shropshire Council seemed to have gone into hibernation. Except in Oswestry. A highways officer was dispatched immediately on Saturday to correct a problem with signage. We are used to the north of the county taking priority over the rural south.

But at last yesterday afternoon, Shropshire Council corrected its position. The closure will only be for King Street on Friday and Saturday, between 10am and 3pm. High Street will not be closed at any point.

I still oppose closure of King Street on Fridays. It is needed for deliveries for the weekend. Closure on Sunday would help us build our Sunday trade in these social distanced times. But the decision has been made and we must see how it goes.

An experimental traffic regulation order can be withdrawn at any time without notice. There is no consultation with the public or traders before it is put in place, though seven days’ notice must be given. This explanation of how experimental TROs work is from Gloucestershire County Council:

An experimental order can only stay in force for a maximum of 18 months while the effects are monitored and assessed. Changes can be made during the first six months of the experimental period to any of the restrictions (except charges) if necessary, before the Council decides whether or not to continue with the changes brought in by the experimental order on a permanent basis.

It is not possible to lodge a formal objection to an experimental traffic regulation order until it is in force. Once it is in force, objections may be made to the order being made permanent and these must be made within six months of the day that the experimental order comes into force.

If feedback or an objection is received during the period that suggests an immediate change to the experiment that change can be made and the experiment can then proceed. If the experimental order is changed, then objections may be made within six months of the day that the experimental order is changed.

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