Why Ledbury's town centre is so important

First published in Letters

Town councillor Anthony Bradford asks (Letters, February 14) upon what factual basis I claim that the town centre is Ledbury’s largest source of jobs and income.

Research carried out under the auspices of Campaign to Protect Rural England by local volunteers showed that in 2011 shops in the town centre employ over 500 people. Businesses supporting shops and restaurants in town employ a further 700. That’s a total of 1,200 jobs.

The annual turnover of shops in Ledbury and its suppliers within 30 miles is around £50 million.

There are in the region of 80,000 customer visits to shops in Ledbury each week.

Shops in Ledbury support additional jobs in other local businesses and services – such as local accountants, estate agents, stationers, solicitors, window cleaners, tradespeople and delivery firms.

All of these businesses rely upon trade from local shops and their suppliers. It’s an economic web.

Tourism is one of Herefordshire’s and Ledbury’s major industries and attracts large amounts of money into the local economy.

In 2008 this injection of spending into Herefordshire totalled £411 million supporting 8,500 jobs directly and indirectly (source: Herefordshire Tourism Strategy).

If we assume conservatively that Ledbury accounted for 20 per cent of that economic benefit (it is probably more than that), then over £80 million was generated in our town supporting 1,700 jobs.

Visitors to Ledbury come here to see the heritage buildings and to enjoy the thriving traditional high street (and they might need to use a loo!), so it is logical to say that the local tourism economy is heavily dependent on an attractive thriving town centre.

None of these figures take into account the enormous upkeep costs of our immaculate heritage buildings, which in turn sustain small armies of specialist workers in buildings conservation and related trades. Nor do they include the engineering industries that service the food and agricultural sectors.

Ledbury town centre is not only a vibrant town, a focus for community spirit, but is an engine of economic activity. We are a country town, based in a rich beautiful agricultural area.

Our major industries – and employers – are thus food production and supply, and tourism. We tamper with the ingredients of our prosperity at our peril.

Richard Hadley

Ledbury

Comments (1)

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11:18pm Mon 24 Feb 14

LR3661 says...

Mr Hadley,
You wrote:
"Town councillor Anthony Bradford asks (Letters, February 14) upon what factual basis I claim that the town centre is Ledbury’s largest source of jobs and income."

Your reply:
"Research carried out under the auspices of Campaign to Protect Rural England by local volunteers showed that in 2011 shops in the town centre employ over 500 people. Businesses supporting shops and restaurants in town employ a further 700. That’s a total of 1,200 jobs."

You don't mention that some of the 'business owners and employees' don't live in Ledbury, nor how many of the 'businesses supporting shops and restaurants' are actually situated in Ledbury. Some of your 'suppliers within 30 miles' and their employees might well operate from different counties, let alone outside Ledbury.

Even if you can argue that your figures are correct, the electoral statistics on the herefordshire.gov website give the number on the electoral roll in Ledbury as 7,148, The majority of whom work in other trades and industries, work outside the parish or are retired and have a retirement income originating from outside the parish.

According to localstats.qpzm, the 2011 census, Ledbury residents listed their occupations as:
“Professional 15.5%, Skilled trades 13.7%, Elementary 13.5%, Managers, directors and senior officials 11.1%, Caring, leisure and other service 10.3%, Associate professional and technical 10.1%, Administrative and secretarial 9.3%, Process, plant and machine operatives 9.1%, Elementary administration and service 9.0%, Caring personal service 8.5%."

You say:
"If we assume conservatively that Ledbury accounted for 20 per cent of that economic benefit (it is probably more than that), then over £80 million was generated in our town supporting 1,700 jobs.”

That’s over £47,000 per job, even with your generous job figures, which have jumped from 1200 to 1700 within this article.

You also drag out that old chestnut:
"Tourism is one of Herefordshire’s and Ledbury’s major industries and attracts large amounts of money into the local economy."

This being so, should we be expected to pay out of our own pockets for the upkeep of the two toilets in town? I have read that the Town Council are planning a hike in the precept on our Council Tax to cover the cost of everyday services tourists should expect to find in a place they are encouraged to visit. We are already paying via our Council Tax for
"the enormous upkeep costs of our immaculate heritage buildings"

It is local taxpayers who pay, not the tourists, who actually give nothing to the town by way of entrance charges. At most they come here, buy something from the expensive clothing shops and have a meal at a local cafe. Meanwhile the rest of us shop online or out of Ledbury because for little more than the cost of parking the car in town we can get a much bigger choice than the the two smaller local supermarkets offer. Most people shop elsewhere for clothes too.
Mr Hadley, You wrote: "Town councillor Anthony Bradford asks (Letters, February 14) upon what factual basis I claim that the town centre is Ledbury’s largest source of jobs and income." Your reply: "Research carried out under the auspices of Campaign to Protect Rural England by local volunteers showed that in 2011 shops in the town centre employ over 500 people. Businesses supporting shops and restaurants in town employ a further 700. That’s a total of 1,200 jobs." You don't mention that some of the 'business owners and employees' don't live in Ledbury, nor how many of the 'businesses supporting shops and restaurants' are actually situated in Ledbury. Some of your 'suppliers within 30 miles' and their employees might well operate from different counties, let alone outside Ledbury. Even if you can argue that your figures are correct, the electoral statistics on the herefordshire.gov website give the number on the electoral roll in Ledbury as 7,148, The majority of whom work in other trades and industries, work outside the parish or are retired and have a retirement income originating from outside the parish. According to localstats.qpzm, the 2011 census, Ledbury residents listed their occupations as: “Professional 15.5%, Skilled trades 13.7%, Elementary 13.5%, Managers, directors and senior officials 11.1%, Caring, leisure and other service 10.3%, Associate professional and technical 10.1%, Administrative and secretarial 9.3%, Process, plant and machine operatives 9.1%, Elementary administration and service 9.0%, Caring personal service 8.5%." You say: "If we assume conservatively that Ledbury accounted for 20 per cent of that economic benefit (it is probably more than that), then over £80 million was generated in our town supporting 1,700 jobs.” That’s over £47,000 per job, even with your generous job figures, which have jumped from 1200 to 1700 within this article. You also drag out that old chestnut: "Tourism is one of Herefordshire’s and Ledbury’s major industries and attracts large amounts of money into the local economy." This being so, should we be expected to pay out of our own pockets for the upkeep of the two toilets in town? I have read that the Town Council are planning a hike in the precept on our Council Tax to cover the cost of everyday services tourists should expect to find in a place they are encouraged to visit. We are already paying via our Council Tax for "the enormous upkeep costs of our immaculate heritage buildings" It is local taxpayers who pay, not the tourists, who actually give nothing to the town by way of entrance charges. At most they come here, buy something from the expensive clothing shops and have a meal at a local cafe. Meanwhile the rest of us shop online or out of Ledbury because for little more than the cost of parking the car in town we can get a much bigger choice than the the two smaller local supermarkets offer. Most people shop elsewhere for clothes too. LR3661
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