‘Lively but not surprised’: Shrewsbury gets free parking but Ludlow left out
Shrewsbury will benefit from free services over the next fortnight from Meole Brace and Harlescott, the Shropshire Council announced last week, after free parking in authority car parks ended.
The authority introduced free parking during the first fortnight in all of its car parks to try to attract people to the towns and stimulate the economy, and the business improvement districts of Shrewsbury and Oswestry were strive to make cities bright and welcoming.
But, after the authority introduced a free park and ride service in Shrewsbury and not Ludlow, Councilor Andy Boddington struck, claiming the south county was being ignored and accusing the council of having “no interest” in the recovery of the city.
Shropshire Council transport manager Steve Davenport has insisted the city “will not be left behind” and has been denied free services for the time being over Covid security concerns.
Mr Boddington said: “If there has ever been an example of how Shirehall and the Conservative administration ignores the south of the county, this is it. The council announced free bus services to Shrewsbury for two weeks starting April 26. This is a good idea and will encourage the use of buses and help Shrewsbury town center in its recovery phase.
“I am furious, but I am not surprised that Ludlow park and ride was not included in this program. The Shropshire Council has shown little interest in the reestablishment of our town and absolutely none in the service of park and ride. This is despite transport portfolio holder Steve Davenport, council chief Peter Nutting and Ludlow MP Philip Dunne visiting the site of the parks and rides, and even getting on a bus, the latter months. But they’re not interested in buses and not interested in Ludlow. They haven’t done anything. We still have what is probably the worst park and ride facility in the country.
“Ludlow town center also needs help with its recovery. Why has our city been left behind? Did no one at Shirehall think the board should include Ludlow as well?
“I will write to the director general of the council to ask for equal treatment.
“I think we should go a step further and make the 701 and 722 services free until the end of May public holiday. If we stimulate bus travelers, we will boost trade in a city where the Spring Food Festival and the may have been canceled due to the coronavirus concerns.
“By having free buses on a park and ride service in Shrewsbury and a fee in Ludlow, the Shropshire council risks pulling traffic out of our town.”
Councilor Davenport, the council’s transport manager, said Ludlow had not yet been given the free option due to the safety risks of having to make multiple stops, an issue Shrewsbury does not have.
“Ludlow will have free service down the road, like all of our major cities,” he said. “Ludlow is no slouch.”
He added, “My request is that we run free parking services throughout the county. It’s just that in Ludlow it’s almost part of a normal bus line.
“Park and ride services are the way to go in the future to keep the volume of traffic out of town. Shrewsbury has adapted well. We want to ensure that two million people a year use the park and merry-go-round, thus preventing traffic outside the cities. “
He added that Ludlow and other cities would likely see their free parking services introduced when more restrictions were relaxed, but was unable to confirm dates.