Residents and councillors have hit out against an "outrageous" hike in parking charges across Carmarthenshire car parks.

The council’s executive board made the decision in July 2020 to defer the 20p increase until January 4, 2021, when the cost of parking increased from 70p for one hour to 90p.

But the council's decision has come under fire from motorists and traders as town centres continue to struggle amid the coronavirus lockdowns.

One Llandovery resident has launched a petition against the increase and is calling for the first hour of parking to be free for motorists.

However councillor Hazel Evans, executive board member for environment, has urged residents to take advantage of a free parking offer already in place in the town.

She said: "We have been running a free parking offer across our car parks since 2018, which allows people to park for free on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Llandovery between 10am and 2pm.

"This is there for people to take advantage of and for traders to benefit from, and we do hope that people use it."

Meanwhile, Amman Valley councillor Kevin Madge has raised his own concerns over the parking charge increase.

Cllr Madge said: "I understand the need to put the prices up, but the timing of it was all wrong. It should have been postponed again until at least September.

"It is costing people more to go into Ammanford and it is a slap in the face to local businesses.

"We need to be able to give towns the chance to heal from the coronavirus pandemic."

An Ammanford trader, who did not want to be named said the price increase was "outrageous" and that the council "was not listening to the needs of businesses".

Adding: "Non-essential shops are currently closed to the public, but once we are able to open back up this will without doubt deter people from coming into town.

"Why does the council want to introduce their planned parking charge increase at a time when we are already at rock bottom?"

Responding, Cllr Hazel Evans, added: "The increase in car parking charges – the first increase since 2014 - was agreed as part of the council’s budget setting process in February last year and was due to be implemented in April 2020.

"As an executive board we decided to defer that until January to support our town centres in their recovery from Covid-19, as well as suspending car parking charges entirely for six months, from March until the beginning of September.

"Revenue from car parking funds highway improvements and transportation services that are essential to support town centres, and therefore it is not sustainable to delay the increase any further.”