Tag: economy

Shropshire Council looks to reopening of biodigester but employment land in Ludlow will remain scarce

Shropshire Council today said that the biodigester facility on Coder Road could reopen but not for a while. The driver is the government’s resources and recycling strategy which, though the forthcoming Environment Bill is expected to insist that councils collect food waste separately from garden waste. If new life is breathed into the biodigester it will be a back to the future moment for Ludlow, when once again we will have food waste caddies and separate collection. Ludlow companies are struggling to find space to expand. It is vital that the proposed employment site south of Sheet Road opposite the Eco Park is prepared for use as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Shropshire Council, which is investing £1M in a solar farm in Oswestry to supply a packaging business, even though there will only be a minimal financial return to the council, doesn’t seem prepared to buy the land and get development underway.

Ludlow is running out of spaces for business – urgent action is needed

I have already written on the problems that engineering company Flowfit has had finding premises for expansion. It had hoped to move to the biodigester site but in recent weeks, Shropshire Council has ruled that out. The ground breaking biodigester closed in 2012 and has only had sporadic use since. Shropshire Council now says it will not decide on the biodigester’s future until the end of 2023, more than a decade after the facility stopped processing food waste. At least one other light engineering company was eyeing up the site. But it has now been sterilised for two and a half years. Council officers have told companies that employment land is in demand in South Shropshire. I am now asking for urgent action on providing employment land in Ludlow.

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.

Covid Watch 45: Grants for the self-employed available from this morning

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.

Covid Watch 33: 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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