CHURCH leaders have branded proposed on-street parking charges in Wrexham “a tax on worship”.

Michael Brain, secretary and church deacon at Chester Street Baptist Church, says the proposal by council chiefs to introduce car parking charges for on-street bays in the town centre would create problems for wedding guests and mourners who attend the church during the week.

He said: “This is going to really impact us during the week when we have weddings and funerals.

“There is a strong possibility that there will be difficulties for people who will struggle to park – it might put some people off coming.”

The church already suffers parking problems on Sundays when shoppers use the currently free on-street parking by the church to avoid the Sunday parking charges at the nearby Waterworld and library car parks.

Over the years Mr Brain, 74, has been lobbying the council to scrap the Sunday parking charges.

He added: “For a number of years we have been very concerned about the Sunday parking charges. People going shopping park on the street where it’s still free, meaning the spaces which would be used by people going to worship are taken by people avoiding the parking charges.

“Most of our congregation is retired and we have two folk in their 90s – it’s vital we can park on the road for free.

“If they decide to bring in these on street parking charges it will be a tax on worship.”

Under the proposals motorists would have to pay 50p for 30 minutes and £1 per hour to park in the on street bays, which are currently free for 30 minutes during the day.

The controversial plans have been met by a backlash from town centre traders who say it would put shoppers off and drive them out of business.

The proposals have now gone out for public consultation, which closes on July 15, and they will go before the council’s executive board in September when a final decision will be made. A Wrexham Council spokesman said: “We are currently consulting on the proposals to introduce on-street parking charges and the views expressed by the church leaders will be taken into consideration as part of that consultation.”