Category: Economy

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.

Shropshire Council wants to regulate A-Boards and charge small traders in Ludlow up to £213 a board

A-Boards can be a hazard to the partially sighted. Boards can be a problem for families with child buggies. They can be unsightly. But they are also essential for local businesses, many of which are on side alleys. Most people I have spoken to do not want to get rid of A-Boards. They want more care in where they are positioned. My proposed guidelines on resolving this have been ignored. Having rejected charges for A-Boards in December 2018, Shropshire Council is now about to reverse its position. It aiming to charge £213 an A-Board for the first year and £111 a year thereafter. Only one A-Board will be allowed per premises. This is mindless bureaucracy driven by officers and councillors who have lost their understanding of the importance of the independent retail market to rural market towns like Ludlow. They are determined to pursue this tax and ruin policy.

Grants for the self-employed available from this morning #coronavirus

The economy of Ludlow and Shropshire is dominated by small businesses. Many people work in micro-businesses, those with less than ten employees. At the last count, there were 14,355 micro-businesses in our council area. That’s 91% of all our enterprises in Shropshire. Many working in these businesses are self-employed. They were initially ignored by the government but a £9bn support scheme is now in place. It has strict rules and will not help those businesses that did not submit a tax return in 2018-19 because they had just been established. I have received a lot of desperate pleas from local micro businesses. I hope this scheme will help. Let me know how it works out.

We are in the middle of a health and economic emergency. What does Shropshire Council do? Send traffic wardens into Ludlow #coronavirus

There was no market in Ludlow today. The image on this bog was from better times. There never is a market on a Tuesday outside December. Anyways, we have no markets at all now. The town centre is quiet. It is like that everywhere. Shropshire Council’s reaction to this has been to send in traffic wardens today to slap yellow tickets on vehicles breaching the confusing rules for parking in our town centre. I asked today council leaders why they were doing this. The response was civil enforcement officers (CEOs) are there “to enforce law and order”. To which was added a statement that CEOs are “working out our cycling walking avenues as instructed by our government.” Ludlow is not lawless or disorderly. Details of the cycling and walking plans would be important. But from what I read, there are no plans to promote cycling and walking in Ludlow. Shropshire Council is just making up excuses for handing out parking fines. It should concentrate its resources on restrating the economy and that must be a greener economy that we have had to date.

Shropshire Council is consulting on local economic plans – this makes little sense during the #coronavirus emergency

Shropshire Council has been preparing a Ludlow Local Economic Strategy and it is now out for consultation. It doesn’t really work as a strategy. For example, it identifies the lack of affordable housing as a major issue for Ludlow but affordable housing doesn’t get mentioned in the annexed action plans. How can we promote our local economy when we don’t have enough affordable places for workers to live? This consultation is taking place during an unprecedented international health crisis and a very uncertain economic future. Maybe there will be business as usual after Covid-19 but that is not looking very likely any time soon. We should be talking about economic recovery and what sort of local stimulus will be needed. I feel that this consultation is a distraction from the important business of the day.

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