The Lake District National Park Authority is changing its parking fees structure from Easter in a move, it says, to encourage visitors and locals to stay longer in our towns and villages.

It is disposing of one-hour parking but reducing the fee it charges to pay for a two-hour stay.

This has been welcomed in some quarters - but not in Hawkshead, where the parish council believes it will deter motorists from making short visits to the village and hit trade.

The issue is an example of increasing concerns about parking fees in South Lakeland and the Lake District.

Visit most towns in the United States and you will find that you don’t have to pay to park your car. But try to find places in the Lake District where a tourist can park for free and you’ll be hard-pressed to succeed.

Of course, the USA is much larger than England - there is simply a lot more space over there - but does that mean that every authority here should charge people for parking?

The letters pages of The Westmorland Gazette regularly feature correspondents who object to local parking fees .

They get even more irate if they end up with a parking ticket for over-staying their allotted time and often urge others to boycott the area, on the grounds it does not seem to welcome visitors.

Local authorities will rightly argues it costs money to run and maintain car parks and pay officers to enforce the rules.

But, increasingly, car parks are used as vital revenue earners for councils, who have to find ways of realising assets at a time of continued austerity, pressure on services and less money from Government.

However, the last thing anyone wants to do is upset a visitor just as they arrive because of parking fees, rules and fines.

It would be better for all car parks to operate on a pay on exit basis with a reasonable tariff that increases the longer you stay. That way, people could stay for as long or short as they wanted without worrying about possible parking fines.