'Livid but not surprised': Shrewsbury gets free park and ride but Ludlow left out

A civic leader is "livid" that his town has been snubbed for a free park and ride service while another has benefited.

Shoppers will be able to park and ride for free in Shrewsbury but not Ludlow
Shoppers will be able to park and ride for free in Shrewsbury but not Ludlow

Shrewsbury will have free services over the next fortnight from Meole Brace and Harlescott, Shropshire Council announced last week, after free parking at the authority's car parks came to an end.

The authority introduced free parking for the first fortnight in all of its car parks to try and get people into towns and boost the economy, and business improvement districts in Shrewsbury and Oswestry have made efforts to make the towns bright and welcoming.

But, after the authority introduced a free park and ride service in Shrewsbury and not Ludlow, Councillor Andy Boddington hit out, claiming the south of the county is being ignored and accusing the council of having "no interest" in the town's recovery.

Shropshire Council's transport lead Steve Davenport insisted the town "will not be left out", and it was only denied free services for the moment due to Covid safety reasons.

Mr Boddington said: "If ever there was example of how Shirehall and the Conservative administration ignore the south of the county, it is this. The council announced free park and ride bus services in Shrewsbury for two weeks from April 26. 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.

"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."

Councillor Davenport, the council’s transport lead, said Ludlow hadn't been given the free option yet because of the safety risks of having to make multiple stops, a problem which Shrewsbury doesn't have.

"Ludlow will get a free service further down the line, as will all of our major towns," he said. "Ludlow is not being left out."

He added: “My request is that we run free park and ride services throughout the county. It’s just that in Ludlow, it’s almost part of a normal bus route.

“Park and ride services are the way to go in the future in keeping the volume of traffic out of the town. Shrewsbury has adapted well. We want to get two million people a year using the park and ride, and thereby keeping the traffic out of the towns.”

He added that Ludlow and other towns are likely to have their free park and ride services introduced when more restrictions are eased, but wasn’t able to confirm dates.

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