WHILE the vast majority of traders and shoppers in Ledbury would welcome a relaxation of the parking rules, the fees from tickets are a major source of income for the county council – and, like all local authorities, Herefordshire needs to draw in money wherever possible to continue to provide services.

With funding from central government dwindling, councils are struggling to find the money required for vital services such as social care.

So you can understand why Herefordshire and indeed any council would be reluctant to reduce the charges for parking or relax the enforcement times. They simply need the money.

However, Ledbury businesswoman Rosemary Ford is quite right when she says that something needs to be done to prevent potential customers from going elsewhere in order to avoid paying to park.

In Malvern, it's free to park at all council-run car parks after 4pm which clearly encourages late afternoon shopping.

In Ledbury, the parking charges don't end until 6pm and, as Mrs Ford points out, that does drive people away from the town.

So, should Herefordshire Council follows Malvern Hills' example and reduce the charging times to 4pm instead of 6pm? Would the loss of those two hours of ticket money make a significant difference to the budget?

I'm sure the decision would be welcomed by almost all residents of the town – unless the money lost has to be recouped by putting up council tax, of course.