Independent high street traders are suffering a sharp decrease in custom as a result of the recent hike in car parking charges.

That is the claim of Cardigan businesses following Ceredigion County Council's decision to increase the council-run car parking charges to a whopping £2.10 for cars, vans and motorcyces who want to park for just one hour.

This then increases to £2.60 when people chose to spend two hours in Cardigan town centre.

But shopkeepers are already seeing a distinct drop in trade, particularly from local people who are either choosing to shop out of town or travel to neighbouring counties where the parking fees are cheaper.

“Shopkeepers in the town are already telling me that the car park charges are turning people away,” said town and county councillor Elaine Evans.

“Councils are supposed to be doing their utmost to support the local economy during this current cost of living crisis, yet here we are seeing the charges being increased to this extremely high sum.

“People just can’t afford to pay £2.10 just to pop into town for a loaf of bread or a newspaper with the result that our shops are seriously losing out.”

Meanwhile local townspeople are urging the county council to reconsider their latest parking hikes.

“Ceredigion County Council seems determined to kill off our town centres and then blame it on out-of-town shopping,” said one concerned resident.

“They should be encouraging people to come to town, not driving them out.”

In contrast, Pembrokeshire County Council allows people to park for free for the first 30 minutes of shopping and then £1 for one hour and £2 for two hours.

Carmarthenshire County Council charges 90p for up to one hour, £1,20 for up to four hours and £1.70 all day.

All-day shoppers in Ceredigion, however, are expected to pay between £4.60 and £6, depending on which towns they are visiting.

“I’m not asking for free parking,” added Cllr Elaine Evans.

“All I’m requesting is that local people can be given the chance of calling in to town for the first half hour of trading and be able to park for free.

"This will not only help the shoppers’ pockets but it will also encourage people to carry on supporting their local towns and ensure that our businesses stay vibrant.”