Shropshire Star

Ludlow being 'shafted' by Shrewsbury over Shropshire Council's parking hikes decision - councillor

'Ludlow is being shafted by Shrewsbury once again', according to a councillor left furious over planned hikes in car parking fees.

Last updated
Councillor Andy Boddington said Ludlow was being 'shafted' over the decision.

Earlier this week a Shropshire Council scrutiny committee recommended that the authority's cabinet should look again at parts of its controversial plans to raise fees.

But, while the cabinet will examine whether the increases for Shrewsbury are too high, it will not reconsider charges for the majority of the county – including Ludlow, where charges will be up 20p an hour.

That was despite Ludlow Councillor Andy Boddington pressing the scrutiny committee to re-think the planned increase in the town's car parks.

The rise has also been opposed by Ludlow Chamber of Commerce, which has warned it could damage trade.

During the scrutiny meeting, Shropshire Council's Conservative Cabinet Member in charge of Highways, Councillor Dan Morris, warned of the 'self-fulfilling' prophecy of complaining about a 20p increase for Ludlow's car parks.

Responding to Councillor Boddington, he said: "To put the increases in context for Ludlow, it is a 20p increase. While it is an increase, it is a small increase and there is a wider point about the impact of making almost a big noise about this becomes – sometimes you are in danger of talking yourself into a self-fulfilling prophecy by making a big noise about a 20p increase."

Speaking following the meeting Councillor Boddington said he had been frustrated at the lack of consideration over Ludlow's situation – with the meeting focussing largely on Shrewsbury.

He said: "The debate was nearly all about Shrewsbury, a little bit about Wem - and beyond that the other market towns including Ludlow were pretty much ignored.

"The increase in charges will be damaging to Ludlow. It adds to a number of pressures on town centre businesses. The increased charges will come in by the end of April. They will be implemented at 21 days’ notice. There will be no opportunity to object.

"Once again Ludlow is being shafted by Shrewsbury. Councillors outside Ludlow don’t seem to care about our town."

The meeting had also heard that despite the council's intention to increase charges to generate money to pay for improvements –it had actually made a £4.3m surplus in the previous three years, which had not been used to pay for the improvements and was instead diverted elsewhere.

Councillor Boddington said the situation raised questions he intends to press in the coming weeks.

He said: "It was established during the meeting that £4.3m “surplus” had been generated from parking charges in Shropshire over the last three years.

"I argued in my submission that that was sufficient to pay for the parking reviews and increased staffing costs the council was planning.

"It was stated that this 'surplus' was used for the purposes within the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

"No evidence was given on where the £4.3m had actually gone and, under the purposes of the act, could have gone into the 'general spend' [quoting an officer] for anything the council does.

"I will ask a more detailed question of where the money has gone in March."