Row over Carmarthenshire Council's plan to scrap free car parking and bring in daily fees
PLANS to scrap free parking on Sundays have been described as an attack on religion and a blow to shops and businesses.
But Carmarthenshire Council says at a time when its funding is being cut it has to raise extra revenue to keep services running.
It says the move could raise almost £70,000 a year.
To boost the authority's budget for the coming financial year Carmarthenshire Council transport chiefs are planning to axe free Sunday parking in all council-owned car parks.
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They are also resurrecting plans to charge drivers to park in Lammas Street.
The announcement comes four years after the authority made a U-turn over Sunday parking in 2009.
It is also 16 months since traders claimed victory with a 1,500-name petition to quash moves to install parking meters along Lammas Street.
Carmarthenshire Council shelved the charging in Lammas Street plans in November 2011.
But at its budget meeting Carmarthenshire Council revealed plans to charge for on-street parking in various streets in the county.
The council has estimated £10,000 will be made from on-street parking meters each year including ones in Lammas Street.
At the moment the bays on the street are restricted to half an hour's free parking, but this will change if meters are added.
Free Sunday parking in the county could also be axed by the authority, with up to £56,000 being made each year by the move.
It is expected these charges could come in as early as April, if proposals are passed.
Carmarthen councillor Alun Lenny said he was disappointed by the news, which he thinks will hit businesses in the town.
"It will turn the screw for trade by taking away Sunday parking," he said.
He added the move would not only affect people in the town, but also those who visit for a meal or to go to church.
"The people who will suffer the most are those who attend churches and chapels on a Sunday," he said.
"This will cost them £150 a year and they could see this as an attack on religion."
Mr Lenny said the move would stand on people's rights to access religious services without paying.
He also said it would harm already struggling businesses.
"I know we need to balance the budget but it will help to push some businesses over the edge.
"Things have gone from bad to worse," he added.
A spokeswoman for Carmarthenshire Council said: "The county council agreed a proposal for Sunday car park charging, and for on street parking charges with the details to be developed to identify and promote appropriate locations in the county.
"The details of such schemes would be worked up in consultation with the local community and businesses."
Kevin Madge, Carmarthenshire Council leader, said the proposed parking charges is one way for the council to keep services going.
"At the end of the day the council is facing a very, very difficult situation," he said.
"Nobody wants to bring charges in but we are in very difficult times.
"People have to recognise that we clean the streets. All these services have got to be kept going and all of these resources have got to pay for that."