Carmarthenshire parking fees plan 'a tax on religion', claims churchman
PLANS to scrap free Sunday parking in Carmarthenshire have been criticised by church leaders.
The county council estimates it can raise £56,000 to put towards keeping services running by bringing in the charges.
It is now planning to talk to local communities and businesses about the move.
But church leaders across the county have spoken of how the plans will affect congregations.
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Reverend David Jones, of Greenfield Baptist Chapel, Llanelli, said the proposal would have a devastating impact on Sunday services.
"It would be a backward step," he said.
"Our people use the multi-storey car park, it's highly regrettable to hear this news."
Canon Michael Lloyd Rees, minister of Betws and Ammanford, said Sunday parking charges would affect church-goers.
"It will affect those who come here to St Michael's Church," he added.
"There needs to be a bit of respect given to the community who use the facilities.
"Why should people be penalised for going to church?"
Reverend Leigh Richardson, vicar of St Peter's Church in Carmarthen, described charging for parking on a Sunday as a tax on religion.
He said: "It is going affect us greatly.
"Going to church is a freedom people in this country have enjoyed for centuries.
"Being charged to go to church is a tax on religion and it happens nowhere else in the world."
The church will be meeting with Carmarthenshire Council officials to discuss the plans on Tuesday, March 26.
Canon Patrick Thomas, Vicar of Christchurch in Lammas Street, Carmarthen, said the proposal was "very sad".
He added: "There is something special about Sundays, they are part of our culture in Wales, and that should be protected."
Carmarthenshire Council says it is facing a cuts to its funding from the UK and Welsh governments. It says it needs to raise money to balance its books and keep frontline services running.