LUDLOW is never going to be able to fulfil its potential as a tourism town with major investment.

A Ludlow councillor says that it is ‘ridiculous’ that a town where the economy and prosperity is so dependent upon tourism has to depend upon the efforts of volunteers.

A bid is being made to fund a manager for the Ludlow Visitor Information Centre.

Ludlow Town Council has been asked to find £25,000 to give a boost to the centre, which is currently staffed and run entirely by volunteers.

It would also mean that a vital service that used to be provided by the visitorinformation centre but was stopped when Shropshire Council withdrew its funding could be reinstated.

This would mean that people who go into the centre could in future be helped to find and book bed and breakfast and other accommodation.

Vivienne Parry, who is both a Ludlow town councillor and also represents the town on Shropshire Council, supports the proposal but is unsure if the funding can be found.

“It is ridiculous that a town like Ludlow where tourism is such a vital part of the economy that this essential service is provided on a voluntary basis,” said Mrs Parry.

“The volunteers do a great job, but there needs to be someone in charge who can enhance the service.

“People must find it incredible that when they go into the visitor information centre it is not possible to get any help with finding overnight accommodation.

“Wherever I go around the world this is a basic requirement for any tourist or visitor information centre.”

Mrs Parry said that the risk is that if people cannot find any help with finding somewhere to stay then they will go somewhere else and Ludlow will miss out.

Until a few years ago the visitor information centre in Ludlow was partly funded by Shropshire Council and this included paying the salary of a manager who was responsible for its running and supported the volunteers.

However, this money was withdrawn as part of savings made by Shropshire Council and the service that is provided from the Ludlow Assembly Rooms was taken over entirely by volunteers.

The visitor information centre was also moved from the ground floor at the front of the Assembly Rooms to an upper room where is was less accessible.

However, the centre will return to its original position on the ground floor and at the front of the building when refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms is complete. It is hoped that this will be before the end of the year.

It had originally been planned for the autumn, but this is now unlikely said Mrs Parry.

She said that while she agrees with the idea of appointing someone to be paid to run the information centre, this could be problematic.

“There are a lot of calls upon the town council for funding,” said Mrs Parry.

“The budget for the current year has already been set, so it could not be until 2020/21 at the earliest.”

Ludlow Town Council is due to start considering its budget for the next financial year when it meets in September after the summer holiday with a final decision likely at the end of this year or early next.

The biggest single attraction for visitors to the town is St Laurence Church, with the castle not far behind. In the summer there is the annual Fringe Arts Festival, and over the second week in September the main autumn Food Festival that can bring

more than 20,000 people into Ludlow.