Concerns that outdoor seating areas in Crickhowell which have been in place since lockdown could now be lost, have been expressed by local businesses.

Frank Ady of Treebeards Bar said: “Crickhowell Town Council have decided to drastically reduce the size of the social seating areas which are outside many of the hospitality businesses in the High Street and replace these with parking spaces.

“This was at the request of some of the other busnesses in Crickhowell but totally disregards the vote that took place regarding the seating areas last year in which over 60 per cent of Crickhowell residents voted for them to stay.

“This action also appears to be in direct opposition to Powys County Council’s current initiative called ‘The Active Travel Plan’ whose aim is to reduce emissions within the borough by encouraging the non use of cars in towns, the promotion of walking, cycling, car sharing and using public transport,” said Mr Ady

“If you Google ‘how do I make my town more vibrant’ which businesses in the town have expressed a desire to do, the response clearly states that social seating is one of the most effective ways to do this.

“We have seen, following Covid, that people (residents and visitors alike) want outdoor spaces in which to socialise. By taking these spaces away from hospitality venues within the town we are in danger of reducing the number of people who want to spend time in our amazing town. By removing these areas the number of parking spaces on Crickhowell High Street will increase by three, even though free spaces are available in the Powys CC owned town car park.

“We have held a peaceful protest in the High Street and a written and online petitions have been in operation in the last few days with over 500 signatures so far,” he said.

Mr Ady also drew attention to neighbouring Abergavenny’s acclaim as one of the top places in Wales to live, which saw the Sunday Times praise the town for its cafe culture.

“It’s totally backwards to go with Crickhowell’s plan,” he said, adding that he had spoken to the town council who plan to consult with Abergavenny over its town model.

Mayor of Crickhowell, Paul Evans said: “The seating areas were originally introduced as a pandemic measure by Powys CC in 2020.

“There have been discussions recently as one group of High Street traders wishes to see a reduction in the area they occupy because they are concerned about the reduction in the availability of parking spaces and another group wishes to retain them.

“Opinion amongst users of the High Street is divided – it is not possible scientifically to say in what proportions.

“There is no doubt that Crickhowell has a severe shortage of parking, which is inadequate at time to deal with local residents coming to work or shop here, never mind the influx of welcome tourists at peak holiday times.

“Crickhowell Town Council is actively trying to address this issue as part of its place-planning process, but it is reliant on other bodies (principally Powys CC) to fund solutions. Crickhowell Town Council has been discussing ways of finding a compromise over the High Street seating areas with Powys CC, but we are not the decision makers and discussions are ongoing.

“The town council is now advertising for a consultant to assist in the research and preparation of a new place plan for Crickhowell. The first stage of this work will be conducting more structured research into view of residents and users of the town about how they wish to see it develop and what their priorities are.”

Powys County Council was approached for comment but they were not able to provide a statement at this time.