If every there was example of how Shirehall and the Conservative administration ignore the south of the county, it is this. The council yesterday announced free park and ride bus services in Shrewsbury for two weeks from 26 April. It’s a good idea and will encourage bus use and help Shrewsbury town centre in its recovery phase.
I am livid but not surprised that Ludlow’s park and ride has not been included in this scheme. Shropshire Council has shown little interest in our town’s recovery and absolutely none in the park and ride service. That is despite the portfolio holder for transport Steve Davenport, council leader Peter Nutting and Ludlow’s MP Philip Dunne visiting the park and ride site, even getting on a bus, in recent months. But they are not interested in buses and not interested in Ludlow. They have done nothing. We still have what is probably the worst park and ride facility in the country.
Yesterday, Shropshire Council announced that the bus services from Meole Brace and Harlescott park and ride sites would be free from Monday 26 April to Saturday 8 May “to encourage people to visit the town centre and support the town’s businesses as Lockdown measures are eased.” Steve Brown, the council’s head of environment and transport services, said:
“We are keen to encourage local bus use and as part of this from Monday both the Harlescott and Meole Brace park and ride services will be in operation and will be free to use. This will help enable and encourage more workers, shoppers and visitors to travel in and out of the town centre and support our local businesses.”
That’s a good move and it works towards an objective of public transport being free as proposed by the Foundation for Integrated Transport.
But Ludlow’s town centre needs help to recover too. Why has our town been left out? Didn’t anyone in Shirehall think the council should include Ludlow too?
I will be writing to the chief executive of the council demanding equal treatment.
I think we should go further and make both the 701 and 722 services free until the late May bank holiday. If we boost bus travellers, we will boost trade in a town where the Spring Food Festival and May fair have been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.
By having free buses on one park and ride service in Shrewsbury and charges in Ludlow, Shropshire Council risks drawing traffic from our town.
We desperately need to improve the park and ride at the Eco Park. We have been saying that for nearly a decade but Shropshire Council, which owns the site, has done nothing.
The cabinet portfolio for transport Steve Davenport visited the park and ride site at the invitation of Ludlow’s Sustainable Transport Group last October, arriving and leaving by car. He promised an immediate clean up of the site and its wrecked signage. What has he done since? Nothing.
Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting and Ludlow’s MP Philip Dunne visited the site in January. What have they done since? Nothing.
Ludlow transport is being failed by the Conservative leadership. Despite three senior figures having visited the Eco Park in the last six months, they have done nothing. And now, to add insult to injury, Shrewsbury gets free park and ride and Ludlow loses out.