Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones has challenged Powys County Council over recent changes to town car parks across the constituency. 

Ms Jones is reflecting the views of residents who are upset at the removal of the one-hour parking timeframe in long stay mixed car parks - forcing users to pay for a minimum of two hours at £2.50.  

On April 1 the cost of parking in short stay car parks rose from £1 for the first hour, to £1.40 and from £2 to £2.50 to park for up to two hours. The cost of parking in long stay mixed car parks rose from £1 for the first hour to £2.50 and from £2 to £2.50 for two hours.

Parking charges The Watton, Brecon May 2023
The latest parking charges at The Watton car park in Brecon (B&R)

Changes were agreed by the Council’s Liberal Democrat and Labour run cabinet at the end of March and introduced last month.

Residents have also complained about the lack of card payment machines in Council run car parks, creating long queues or forcing residents to gamble with a traffic warden if they don’t have enough change. 

Ms Jones has written to the Council, asking for the one-hour parking fee to be reintroduced. 

Ms Jones said: “Residents are rightly annoyed at these changes. By removing the £1 hour-long stay, the minimum fee has increased 150 per cent from £1 to £2.50.  At a cost of living crisis, this is excessive for many ordinary shoppers. I am worried that people will decide that £2.50 is too expensive and instead prefer to shop online. 

"With so many more people using contactless payments, why didn’t the Council take this opportunity to put more card machines in our car parks? It was very easy to find a pound coin in a pocket – now we have to find £2.50 or run the risk of a parking ticket.  

“With the tourist season just beginning, we shouldn’t be putting barriers on our local businesses who are fighting tooth and nail against online retailers.  I am calling on the Liberal Democrats and Labour run Council to reintroduce the hour-long stay so that high streets across Brecon and Radnorshire can see their businesses go from strength to strength.”

Cllr Jackie Charlton, Cabinet Member for a Greener Powys said: “Whilst we appreciate that price rises are never welcome, this is the first time in over three years that we have increased parking charges in Powys car parks.  

“The new charges were recommended as part of the council’s requirement to set a balanced budget for 2023-24 and to keep council tax to a minimum, which we achieved. As a local authority, we have been, and continue to be, under extreme pressure to deliver and manage services against difficult financial constraints, funds must be raised to maintain and support the facilities and services we provide. We fully accept that the cost-of-living crisis is hitting everyone right now which is why we did not increase the charges for stays over four hours or for permits, used mainly by people parking for work or residents without on-street parking facilities.

“Whilst the option to park for just one-hour has been removed from our long-stay car parks, this option is still available within the county’s short-stay car parks for a £1.40 fee. However, by encouraging residents and visitors to park in our towns for longer, we anticipate more activity on the high street, with shoppers inclined to make the most of their visit. The cost to park for the day remains the same encouraging holiday makers and tourists to stay longer and enjoy our beautiful towns and the facilities they have to offer.

“Within each car park there is the facility to accept card payments as well as cash providing the users with an alternative should they not carry many coins.”