Ammanford butcher claims parking charges could force him to close
AN Ammanford butcher is calling on Carmarthenshire Council to cut or reduce parking charges, weeks after they were raised.
Charges in the Amman Valley town have risen from 50p an hour to 60p since New Year's Day, with a rise to 90p for four hours and £1.40 for the whole day.
Martin Jones, who has a store in the newly refurbished Quay Street, said customers who used to come in "two or three times a week", were now forced to shop every other week instead.
"The traders knew nothing about it," he said.
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"Customers, shopkeepers, nobody knew the charges were going up."
But Carmarthenshire Council denied this claim, saying the increase took place every January, after a report in 2009.
In 2010, the executive board agreed plans to spread the increase in charges over four years to ease the effect.
But Mr Jones suggested lower fees over a six or 12-month trial. "I think if they charged 50p for half a day and a pound for the whole day, the car park would be full," he said.
"Give something to the people of the town.
"The start of the week, car parks are empty here, so they're not taking anything on empty spaces."
Mr Jones, who employs eight people himself, has had to ask two of his staff to take holiday, because he "doesn't have the work".
"They don't want to take holiday now, they want to take it when it's convenient for them," he said.
"Those two staff who are on holiday are usually here all the time. I don't know if I'm going to have to close, maybe I will, unless it gets better.
"I expect services from the council which provides me with that footfall I need to stop that happening."
A spokesman for Carmarthenshire Council said: "It is important to adopt a structured approach to the levy of charges at the various town centres, to ensure that the competitive position of each town is maintained against surrounding towns, neighbouring authorities and out of town developments.
"Currently, demand for car parking in town centres is high and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future."
He described the charging structure as "extremely competitive" and said "continued investment" was required to ensure standards were maintained.