LUDLOW is set to lose public services including its library, leisure centre and youth services next year.

The future of a list of services hangs by a thread after Ludlow Town Council decided it is not to try to step in and pick up the role from Shropshire Council.

A financial crisis means that Shropshire Council will withdraw from discretionary services from early next year.

It has given Ludlow Town Council the option of trying to take over running the services but this would involve at least a tripling of the local council tax precept from £100 to £300.

Ludlow Town Council decided at an emotional meeting that this is not practical and, in any event, it does not have the resources or experience to take over services that have been run at county level.

All hope now rests on Shropshire Council making a U-turn on its decision not to hold a referendum that if successful could enable it to increase its precept above the two per cent cap imposed from central government.

One other option would be to ask central government for a special grant of £2 million that would enable the town council to pay for the services while it tries to find a long-term solution.

Ludlow Town Council also believes that there might be an opportunity to discuss working in partnership with similar larger town and parish councils in the county.

But councillors agree that the timescale given by Shropshire Council that leaves just 18 weeks to find a solution is not practicable.

Town councillors queued up to say that, while they did not want to see services lost, the idea of Ludlow Town Council taking on the role as provider is unrealistic.

Glen Ginger said that the town council did not have the staff, knowledge or expertise to take over from Shropshire Council.

He also believes that the cost that has been calculated for Ludlow Town Council taking over services like the library, youth services and is an under-estimate.

Tim Gill said that the idea that people in the town could pay more for services, either through the precept or by paying at the point of use, is unrealistic.

“This is not a rich town and take away the central area and there is a lot of poverty,” he said, adding that people found it hard enough to make ends meet, let alone ask them to pay more.

Graeme Perks wants Shropshire Council to return the money to Ludlow that it has made in the sale of assets from the town.

“There has been a lot of money taken out of Ludlow in the direction of Shrewsbury and now is the time to have some of it back,” he said.

Andy Boddington, who represents Ludlow on Shropshire Council, described the situation as appalling.

He said that at the time when Shropshire Council is cutting front-line services, it is spending £15 million on an IT system including £600,000 in consultancy fees.