Ludlow Chamber of Commerce says there are not enough places to park for visitors – and accused Shropshire Council of forgetting about its town in favour of Shrewsbury.
It criticised proposed changes to parking charges and said Shropshire Council had ‘ignored’ the most urgent problem of congestion caused by a lack of spaces to park.
It says Shropshire Council’s proposed parking changes will strike a “third and final” blow for the vibrancy of the town centre and its small independent businesses after a hike in business rates and the go ahead for a new out-of-town supermarket.
Tish Dockerty, secretary of Ludlow Chamber of Commerce, said: “What Shropshire Council has failed to realise is that Ludlow needs more parking spaces.
“The most effective way of making more money for their coffers is to build a multi-storey car park which could be filled a hundred times over.
“There is also a need for a transport hub for bus and rail users which will also help with traffic flow around the centre and in and out of town. However there has been no or little investment of this type by Shropshire Council.
“Obviously the town would very much appreciate it if they actually owned their own car parks and then could reinvest income raised in a transport hub with more parking.
“Currently Ludlow feels like a cash cow for Shropshire Council, which clearly has far more interest in investing in Shrewsbury. All the money raised from parking fees or fines leaves the town and very little ever comes back.
“After losing the fight with the out of town supermarket and still in deep negotiation with the Valuation Office over the steep hikes in business rates Ludlow Chamber of Commerce is now being dealt a third and possibly final blow to the town centre’s future prosperity.
“The chamber represents more than 70 businesses, many of which are based in the town centre are planning a petition. They will fight the proposed changes that are outlined in Shropshire Council’s new parking manifesto.”
She said increasing on-street parking to £2 an hour was too expensive and with no maximum length of stay, parking places both on-street and in the town’s car parks were likely to become “blocked” by those that could afford it only. The loss of 15 minutes' free grace for “pop and shop” activity would mean loss of regular customers and prolonging charges from 6pm to 8pm in the evening would hit the night time economy.
“The net result if these changes are passed will mean that Ludlow will suffer loss of trade in their everyday shops especially throughout low season periods. Ludlow is a town that needs its regular locals shopping as well as wealthy tourists,” she said.
Shropshire Council says the proposed changes will offer value for money and make parking charges more consistent across the county and easier to understand. The consultation ends on October 17.