PARKING charges will resume at council-run car parks in Carmarthenshire at the end of the summer.

The Plaid Cymru-Independent administration voted for their reinstatement on September 1.

But members of the executive board have deferred a 20p tariff increase, which had been due to come into force on April 1 this year, until January 2021.

The authority’s 57 car parks bring in around £2.4 million per year – just over £46,000 per week.

Charging was suspended in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The authority will lose around £1.37 million of income with the March to September suspension.

It is eligible for reimbursement for the first three months of the lockdown from the Welsh Government, but not necessarily beyond that.

The move has left traders and shoppers unhappy.

Linda Jones said: “Small towns like Ammanford, Llandeilo and Llandovery should be free. I used to pop into my local town a few times a week but I cannot afford the fees.

"It has been lovely to support local these past few weeks. Reintroducing the fees will cripple the towns.”

One anonymous local trader said: “Coronavirus

has already impacted on trade, the reintroduction of parking fees so early after lockdown has been relaxed will be devastating for my business.”

Speaking before the executive board meeting on July 27, Carmarthenshire shop worker Paul Wright said the current free parking has been welcomed by shoppers.

“As a general principle free parking would be great, but we understood the need for the council to have some revenue.

“The bigger picture for us is will people return to their normal shopping habits.”

The council's decision comes as changes are being introduced in Ammanford town centre from August 3 to allow safe social distancing and new outside trading opportunities.

From September 1, the council will revert to its ongoing parking fees pilot which offers free parking on dedicated days.

Visitors will still be able to park for free at county council car parks until further notice on:

• Monday-Wednesday, 10am to 2pm, at town centre car parks in Llandovery, Llandeilo and Ammanford.

Cllr Hazel Evans, Executive Board Member for Environment, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic Carmarthenshire County Council decided not to charge for car parking. We have continued to offer free car parking for four months - I propose that we continue the free parking until September 1, throughout the whole of August, to draw in visitors and help parents wanting to shop for the new academic year, and to support the regeneration of our towns.

“Whilst this will have an effect on our budget, it’s important that we support regeneration whilst appreciating that funds from our car parks support public transport routes. We’ll continue to offer the free periods currently available to all towns.”