Council votes not to expand Ludlow market over coronavirus concerns
Concerns about spikes in coronavirus cases across the country have prevented Ludlow's popular market from expanding the number of pitches.
Ludlow Town Council decided against increasing the number of stalls in the town’s market despite hearing that safety measures were now being taken seriously by traders – after the failure of some stallholders to wear masks and use hand sanitiser led the council to reject increasing the number of pitches at its August meeting.
Market officer Tony Caton told councillors at a meeting on Monday that safety measures were now being adhered to and that there was more than enough demand among traders to see the number of stalls increased from 30 to 35 as proposed by town council officers.
Had the plans been approved, the additional stalls would be on the side of the market facing Castle Street Car Park, bringing that row back into full occupancy.
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Mr Caton said: “An extra five stalls on both the regular markets and the specialist markets will amount to an extra £6,000 between now and Christmas.
“Also the whole market let which is the local produce market and antiques market will generate another £750 in additional revenue.
“Presently there is insufficient room on a Saturday for all the traders who want to come, so I have the decision as to who’s not going to come.”
Ludlow mayor Tim Gill, who expressed concern at the previous meeting about the failure of some traders to adhere to Covid-19 safety measures, said he was now happy to support the increase.
Councillor Gill said: “There has really been a vast improvement and I personally feel no difficulty in seeing it increase from 30 to 35. Even in busier times it seems to be working well.
“The reservations I had last time, I don’t have now.”
But other councillors were less convinced. Councillor Glenn Ginger said: “The decision to close the market was never a revenue decision, it was a health issue.
“Revenue is immaterial and should not be considered by these councillors.
“If it wasn’t safe to open with more than 30 stalls it’s not safe now.
“We have got 3,000 extra cases yesterday, we have got spikes everywhere.
“It’s not the time to open the market yet.”
Councillor Viv Parry said she was not convinced all traders were now wearing masks, but Mr Caton said the few who had been against it now accepted the policy.
Councillor Ginger proposed keeping the number of stalls at 30 and this was passed by five votes to four.
Councillor Gill said: “I think that’s a great shame councillors, I think we have missed an opportunity.”
Ludlow market operates on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with specialist markets on Thursdays and Sundays.
After closing at the start of lockdown, the market reopened on June 8 with a reduced number of stalls, a one-way system and social distancing measures as well as rules requiring traders to wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser regularly.
The town council increased the number of pitches from 20 to 30 at the beginning of July.