A TOWN's mayor is outraged over the return of parking charges, on the same day shops will reopen following an easing of lockdown measures.

In line with Government advice, car charges will come back into force from Monday, June 15 in Herefordshire.

On March 24, charges were suspended across the county and the focus of parking enforcement activity since then has been on tackling unsafe parking, providing free parking for NHS workers and supporting the police to enforce social distancing.

Councillor Phillip Howells, mayor of Ledbury Town Council, said: "We think the return of charges at this moment is perverse to be quite frank.

"We want to stress that this decision was not made by us but by the county council.

"I understand the need to generate revenue, particularly at the current time, but if Ledbury Town Council had anything to do with it, we would've delayed the return of parking charges for at least a week on from June 15.

“Reopening of shops will bring a much-needed boost for the local economy, and we don’t want to be discouraging people.

“I know of many councillors and traders who are not happy with the quick return of charges – it’s not very sensitive.”

Caroline Green, chair of the Ledbury Traders Association, said: “It’s like a kick in the stomach for business owners.

“They need all the help they can get during this very difficult time and we need to be encouraging shoppers back and see the return of the tourism pound, which Ledbury relies on heavily.

“Many of the shop owners have and are going the extra mile at the moment, helping the vulnerable in our community, so we should be helping them in return – they need to feel supported.”

Cllr John Harrington, cabinet member for infrastructure and transport at Herefordshire Council, said: “Parking charges are an essential element in our towns and city centres where demand for parking space requires careful management.

"Throughout this crisis Herefordshire Council took the decision to temporarily suspend charges to allow key workers and those going about their essential business to do so without worrying about purchasing a ticket.

“As we return to work, there will inevitably be an increase in car traffic, and it is therefore more important than ever that we park considerately and comply with parking regulations to ensure goods and services can be delivered, and parking spaces are available to all.”

Ledbury traders met at the Market House on June 8 to collect their shop stickers, along with health and safety information in regards to the re-opening of ‘non-essential’ shops on June 15, including Renaissance Menswear, Isaacs Shoes and Accessories and Blandfords.