A CHURCH community has voiced its disappointment after being told it will have to pay to park for Sunday service.

One 65-year-old churchgoer, who was Christened at the church he still attends across the road from the car park, said that the community has never had to pay for parking on Sunday morning.

Members of churches in Denbigh use Factory Ward car park, which is located in the centre of town, because it provides easy access to their place of worship.

The car park is owned by Denbighshire County Council and has 97 parking spaces, including 8 disabled spaces.

The council said that the decision to introduce charges on Sunday mornings was made due to concern that the free parking is "inconsistent with other parts of the county and other places of worship".

The vicar of St Mary’s Church was contacted by the council about the decision, which was relayed to St Thomas’s Church, Grace Church, Pendref Church and the Presbytarian Church in Denbigh.

The council’s standard parking charge is £1 for two-hour stays and £2 for three hours. There is another car park near Factory Ward, however this is already charged.

Stephen Voros, 60, six-year member of Grace Church at the Eirianfa Community Centre, which neighbours the car park, said he is concerned about the “additional pressure” the charge might bring to elderly members.

“It is unnecessary that the council are asking us to pay for parking because there are not many people who use it at that time, only cars left there from the night before,” he said.

“We should be able to go to church without paying for parking, and many of the church members are elderly so it puts additional pressure on them.

“It is unfortunate that if you want to go to town for a drink in the evening you can park for free, but not for church.

“It is disappointing, especially because we do try to do our bit in the community and support disadvantaged people, with things like breakfasts and Christmas lunches and we do not charge for it.”

Elfed Williams, member of Pendref Church, situated opposite the car park, said that the charge "shows that times have changed" since he first attended church in the 1970s.

“I have attended the church all my life and we’ve never had to pay for parking,” he added. “During the 1970s and ‘80s when the car park was manned by a warden on Sunday mornings, you were allowed to stop for free as long as you were attending church."

Denbighshire County Council said that it will give the parishioners "a period of grace" until July 28 when the charge will begin.

A council spokesperson said: “A small number of churches in Denbighshire have historically been granted permission for members of the congregation to park free of charge in Denbighshire County Council owned car parks while attending religious services.

“We have reviewed the situation and are concerned it is inconsistent with other parts of the county and other places of worship.

“After careful consideration it has been decided this will be rescinded. We want to give as much notice as possible and there will be a period of grace up to and including Sunday, July 28.”