TRADERS are uniting against a proposal to extend car parking charges in Usk.

At the first meeting of the newly-reformed Usk Chamber of Commerce about 20 traders were unanimous that Monmouthshire council's proposal to scrap free parking in Usk would have a devastating effect.

A report recommends increasing hourly parking rates by 20p in the council's paid-for car parks and introducing Sunday and night charges in Abergavenny, Monmouth and Chepstow.

Phillip Mungeam, president of Usk Chamber of Commerce, told the meeting at the Nag's Head on Monday night, that it would have a big impact on those living and working in the town.

Mr Mungeam, hairdresser and owner of Peruke Wigs, said: "There is a strong feeling around the whole of Usk. Businesses are working hard to compete with surrounding towns. This is going to be another nail in the coffin for traders."

He added: "If they introduce parking charges The next thing we will see is permit parking. The whole town will get sucked down under."

Mr Mungeam said staff at The Usk Surgery at Maryport Street North Car Park voiced concerns about the cost for community nurses, health visitors and patients.

Steve Mustow, of The Kings Head Hotel, said if the proposal goes ahead he may put barriers at the entrances to his car park to stop people parking there.

Usk mayor, Alec Leathwood criticised the lack of consultation by Monmouthshire and branded the proposal "totally unacceptable". He said: "We have a small number of independent businesses, no large chains and are dependent on people coming in to shop. People will drive past Usk and go to Cwmbran."

Charges for long and short stays in the council's car parks are currently 80p for two hours, £1.30 for three hours and £1.80 for four hours. Five hours costs £2.80 and increases by a pound with every extra hour.

All-day stays cost £3.50. The report recommends a flat rate of £1 for two hours, £2 for three to four hours and £4 for all-day and that people with blue badges be charged from 2016/17.