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Last Updated: Monday, 15 September, 2003, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Parking charges fight lost
Parking charges
Traders say the charges will affect business
Campaigners opposing plans to introduce car parking charges in four Carmarthenshire towns have lost their fight.

The county council is to introduce the charges for the first time despite receiving protest petitions signed by more than 3,000 people.

The authority says the money is needed for running costs and improved facilities.

Councillors also say it is unfair that people parking in Llanelli and Carmarthen already have to pay while those in other towns do not.

Arguments that people will not be able to afford this I find lacking in credibility
Councillor Gwyn Hopkins

On Monday the council's executive board agreed to introduce a charge of 20p for up to four hours and a 40p all-day rate in Ammanford, Llandeilo, Llandovery and Newcastle Emlyn.

Businesses in the towns claim the move will put people off from shopping there.

But environment board member Pam Palmer said: "Car parks should meet their costs, that is they should be self-financing.

"In the last three months we have spent something like 33,000 on these car parks which is a subsidy the people of Carmarthenshire are making to people who do not have to pay for parking."

Colleague Gwyn Hopkins said: "I live in the Llanelli area and I'm sure if you told people they had to pay there but not in Ammanford I know what the answer would be.

"Arguments that people will not be able to afford this I find lacking in credibility."

Mrs Palmer said the new charges were significantly lower than in the county's main towns and pledged that any future price rises would be kept to a minimum.

'Loss of business'

But speaking after the meeting members of Ammanford's Chamber of Trade said the charges would result in a loss of business.

Spokeswoman Jane Donovan said more than 80% of the people they had surveyed said they would not visit as often when the charges come into force.

"If 20% stand by what they said we would be in trouble," she said.

"The council has not listened to us and just made out that we are being awkward.

"That is not true. We have been designated a regeneration area and all we are asking is that the charges are delayed until the town starts to pick-up.

"We have to accept there will be charges some day but now is just the wrong time."


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