PARKING restrictions should be relaxed in Ledbury to prevent potential customers going elsewhere.

That's the view of a businesswoman who plans to petition Herefordshire Council not to enforce parking rules at certain times in order to "keep Ledbury alive".

Rosemary Ford says fines handed out by council parking wardens are driving shoppers away from the town.

Mrs Ford, who runs Serendipity Traditional Antiques in The Tythings at Preston Court, near Ledbury, is calling on residents to join her in petitioning the council for relaxed parking enforcement and reduced charges.

Currently, drivers have to pay to park in the four county council-run car parks in Ledbury from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, while Sundays are free. There are a total of 312 spaces.

The cheapest ticket, according to the county council website, is in the Bye Street Car Park where it's 50p for one hour.

There are also streets where drivers can park for short times but spaces are limited.

Mrs Ford told the Reporter: "I was in Ledbury just before Christmas and the warden was going up and down writing people tickets.

"She was only doing her job of course, but the council should have relaxed charges and times because of how busy the town was just before Christmas.

"Lots of the people I spoke to said they would be going to Malvern to do their shopping and that is a real shame.

"Once people decide to go elsewhere, they very rarely come back."

Mrs Ford added: "We want to petition the council to relax charges because it is just impossible to park in Ledbury, do your shopping around the town and have a coffee with a friend in just an hour.

"The newspapers are always saying high streets are dying so we need to keep Ledbury alive."

A spokesman for the county council said: "The demand for parking is monitored regularly and when setting charges Herefordshire Council consults with town councils to ensure that local needs are reflected.

"There are currently no plans to expand the off street car parking capacity in Ledbury. However, a large number of free limited waiting spaces exist throughout the town for drivers to use and Civil Enforcement Officers regularly patrol these to ensure that maximum turnover of the spaces is achieved in order to benefit local businesses.”