Welsh Labour Councillors in Powys have called on Powys County Council(PCC) to scrap it's parking charge increase to help struggling High Street businesses.

Labour says it would fund an hour’s free parking at all council car parks by using £231,000 of a £2 million "Strategic Fund" ringfenced by the cabinet at the last budget round.

Last week, increased rates for parking on council car parks were announced, which PCC said would help fund free parking for blue badge users.

Now PCC's Welsh Labour Group Leader Cllr Matthew Dorrance says an hour's free parking at all council car parks would give the county's economy a "much needed boost".

"Our high streets are suffering because of Tory austerity so increasing car parking charges will only make the problem worse," he said.

"We think the Council needs to do all it can to help our high streets thrive. That’s why we’re calling on the Council to scrap its parking charges increase and give shoppers across Powys an hour’s free parking at all Council car parks."

Cllr David Thomas, the Welsh Labour Group Finance Spokesperson added: "Despite massive cuts to Wales’ funding the Welsh Labour Government is supporting small businesses in Powys with business rate relief and investment into superfast broadband.

"By giving our high streets help to succeed we believe small businesses can create more jobs and give the Powys economy a much needed boost."

However Powys County Council say they believe the new rates are realistic and affordable, and provide much needed revenue streams for the council.

The council also says it will peg the cost of an annual permit at £370, saying it offers regular users a 60% discount on the pay-and-display prices.

Cllr Phyl Davies, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: "Income from our pay and display car parks is important for the council as it helps support the services that we provide. We believe the new rates are realistic and affordable but will also help the council meet its income targets and support important services," he said.

"We considered providing a free hour parking at our pay and display car parks when we carried out the review of car parking charges. However, providing free parking would impact significantly on our existing income and place further budget pressures on the council.

"A recent Welsh Government study also found that the general availability of spaces was felt by visitors to be more important than cost in their overall decision about visiting. Visitors felt that traffic flow and parking signage had the same, if not greater, effect on their decision to visit the town centre, how long they spend there, and how much money they spend."