THE county council's recent decision to alter its short-term parking arrangements was done to help high streets and encourage town-centre shopping, but – one month into the new system – the switch has provoked a mixed reaction from shoppers and business owners.

At the end of November, Monmouthshire (MCC) introduced new rules to a number of its short-term car parks with the intention of giving "more people the opportunity to pop into the county’s towns and shop locally," according to a statement at the time.

The new parking rules meant MCC's short-term car parks offered a strict maximum stay of four hours, followed by a two-hour "no return" period before drivers could purchase another ticket for the same vehicle in the same car park.

Back when the new rules were introduced, Cllr Bryan Jones said: "Vehicles which previously unlawfully occupied spaces in our short-term car parks potentially deprived a considerable number of visitors who wished to stay for perhaps half an hour or less.

"This is not good for business and caused inconvenience for those wishing to make a brief call in our towns to purchase goods, deliver or collect items or attend an appointment."

But while MCC's intentions were to boost local businesses, one trader from Chepstow said the move would have the opposite effect.

Tracy Cameron, a hair salon manager, wrote in to say: "There are so many empty shops in the High Street – surely people should be encouraged to stay in town and spend money?

"This change is completely thoughtless."

Ms Cameron said her elderly clients would now have to park at the Dell car park and walk to and from her shop in possibly wet conditions.

Shoppers, too, have reacted to the changes, with one referring to the two-hour "no return" rule as a "pain."

On a popular Facebook community page for Chepstow, one woman said the rule would discourage people from staying in the town centre.

However, another man said the new rules would free up space for shoppers, by preventing workers and commuters using the car parks for all-day parking.

MCC was asked to comment on the success of the new short-term parking rules.