SHROPSHIRE Council was discussing a review of parking charges in Ludlow as the Advertiser went to press.

The outcome could have a big say on the prospects for shops in the town centre.

Traders and town councillors have complained that changes introduced in November 2018 have had a damaging impact upon town centre trade.

This involved a rise in on-street hourly rates in the town centre and restrictions on residents’ permits.

That cut town centre trade at a challenging time for all town centres.

A review was due in November. But at that point a general election was underway.

“I successfully petitioned for the review to be delayed because parking has always been a political debate,” said Andy Boddington, Shropshire councillor for Ludlow North.

“It would be weaponised if the review went against Ludlow in the middle of a general election. Purdah rules had to take priority.”

He has complained that a paper setting out the Shropshire Council proposals had still not been made available just days before yesterday’s debate.

“Will parking charges be reduced?” said Mr Boddington.

“Will the council reinstate pop and shop? Will it be more flexible about on-street parking permits for residents?”

It is now more than a year since the new regime of charges was introduced and so there is a clearer picture of the impact.

Protests in the summer and autumn of 2018 resulted in some changes to the original proposals causing Mr Boddington to claim that the result had been a score draw.

These included deciding that people could park free of charge after 6pm instead of 8pm as had been the original plan.

Another Shropshire Council proposal expected to raise the blood pressure of traders in the town centre involves a tougher regime about where people can park.

Shropshire Council is planning to ban parking in the market and castle area at all times. It also wants to prohibit loading between 10am and 2pm.

The restrictions will not apply to Castle Street from outside the Cancer Research shop through to Ludlow Assembly Rooms. They are also suggesting creating a one-way system from Spar to Betfred and Pizza Express. The council also wants to make Church Street and Harp Lane one way. The origin of these proposals lies in concern about inconsiderate parking on Market Square and Events Square,” said Mr Boddington.

“Currently, the only area where restrictions apply and can be enforced is the area between Vision Express and the market. This is of course the area where civil enforcement officers frequently slap tickets on vehicles because most motorists don’t realise that this is a restricted zone.”