AMMANFORD will not benefit at all from Carmarthenshire county council’s free Christmas parking scheme.

That is the blunt message fromtraders who are distinctly unimpressed by the local authority’s plans to restrict free parking to the period December 26 to January 1.

County Hall – who say the move will cost them over £20,000 – hope to support traders and encourage more shoppers to visit town centres after Christmas.

In previous years, free parking has been given for the two weeks before Christmas, at a cost of approximately £70,000.

But, faced with budget cuts of millions of pounds, council chiefs say it would not be possible to give the concession this year.

“No-one whatsoever comes into Ammanford between December 26 and January 1,“ Angela Phillips, secretary of Ammanford Chamber of Trade, told the Guardian. “It may benefit towns like Carmarthen and Llanelli, but then they are totally different towns to Ammanford – with totally different kinds of shops.

“I suppose free parking just might be of benefit to those businesses who decide to open on the Friday (December 28) – apart from that, I cannot see any benefit at all.”

Council leader Kevin Madge said: “Weare listening andwe want to help traders, but we also have to be mindful of the severe budget cuts we are continuing to experience and we have to prioritise our front line services, putting resources where they are needed most.

“By giving free parking for this particular week we hope it will demonstrate our support and commitment to town centre traders without costing the amount it has in previous years.”