PARKING charges look likely to resume at council-run car parks across Carmarthenshire.

The authority’s 57 car parks bring in around £2.4 million per year – just over £46,000 per week.

But charging was suspended in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, the council’s executive board is to consider whether to reintroduce charging and what to do about a planned 20p tariff increase which was supposed to come into force on April 1 this year.

An executive board report has considered three options, with a recommendation that charging resumes on August 31 and that the 20p increase is deferred until January 2021.

It said shoppers in Carmarthenshire were more reliant on cars than urban council areas, and added: “As a consequence car parking within our towns is a key factor in supporting their economic vitality and their recovery following the impacts of Covid-19.”

If the August 31 option is approved, the financial loss to the authority would be £1.37 million.

The report said the council would be eligible for reimbursement of lost car park income for the first three months of the lockdown, but not necessarily beyond that.

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The current free parking has been welcomed by shoppers, according to Paul Wright, who works at Goldstone Books, Carmarthen.

“I would say it has,” he said. “As a general principle free parking would be great, but we understood the need for the council to have some revenue.

“The bigger picture for us is will people return to their normal shopping habits.”

Angharad Davies, who runs Verve Cafe in Llanelli with her mother, said the free parking has helped.

She said some sort of parking discount scheme for traders would be welcomed, but acknowledged that charging would have to resume.

“The council need to get money from somewhere to actually maintain the town,” she said.

Parking wardens have started patrolling in Carmarthenshire again, and pay and display machines will be reactivated if the executive board approves the August 31 recommendation at its meeting on July 27.

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