Shropshire Star

Ludlow residents form group as concerns grow over number of empty shops in their town

Ludlow residents are coming together in a new group to discuss fears about shops closing down and the future of the town centre.

The Fruit Basket. Photo: Let's Go Ludlow

A notice outside the Fruit Basket greengrocer shop in Ludlow town centre has fuelled concerns about the number of empty shops, including the former Costa Coffee shop in King Street which closed in May and remains unfilled.

Ludlow Residents Group on Facebook already has more than 250 members despite only being launched a few days ago by town councillor Darren Childs.

Darren said: "I have started the Ludlow Residents Group as a growing number of the public have been getting more and more concerned with empty shops, housing conditions, conditions of the pavements and roads and a general feeling Shropshire Council is forgetting about its smaller market towns."

The first target for the campaigners is to ask the county council to allow free parking in the run-up to Christmas to help support small local businesses.

Meanwhile, Lucy Cook, of Let's Go Ludlow, has called for people to support shops on Black Friday next week following the appearance of a closure notice on the The Fruit Basket in Church Street, Ludlow.

Let's Go Ludlow has been sharing examples of the positives about the town and vowed only to share the "things we loved about living in Ludlow".

Lucy said: "But this is one unhappy story that has to be told, not least because just over a year ago, we decided to use our platform to promote the area’s amazing, local businesses."

She said a few weeks ago: "The Fruit Basket closed its doors for the very last time."

In a post on their Facebook page, Lucy said: "For 33 years Rob and Ross have worked crazy hours to provide their very loyal customers with fresh produce, much of it locally grown or sourced.

"During the pandemic, they were amazing - delivering regular boxes of food to vulnerable customers, it must have been pretty overwhelming and exhausting for them but they carried on nonetheless."

Lucy added that the note from Ross and Rob was addressed: “to our loyal customer base... with a sad and heavy heart”.

It went on to explain that they could no longer compete with local supermarkets, not least due to the current economic climate and increasing running costs.

The notice goes on to say that it was the “hardest decision of my life” and concludes by thanking everyone for their loyal support.

Lucy added: "It is heartbreaking.

"We need to support our local shops. We must prevent this from happening to our High Street."

She is asking followers to pledge to shop locally this Christmas.

And on Black Friday next week she urges people to "please please just pop into town and buy something from a small, local business".

"Let’s prevent more shops closing and support the people who make our town so picturesque and vibrant, the place we are so proud to call home," she said.

In 2021 the Shropshire Star reported that Rob Morris, the owner of The Fruit Basket, was retiring after 31 years in the business and handing it on to his son, Ross.

He thanked customers, regulars and visitors to Ludlow who he has met since opening the store on Church Street in 1990.

The Fruit Basket was known for sourcing its stock locally, with Rob even growing some of the vegetables he sells himself. It also sold Mawley Milk products from near Cleobury Mortimer as well as local eggs, cakes and during the winter season, Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe.

A phone number remains linked to the Fruit Basket business and the Shropshire Star has attempted to get in touch with the owners.