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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 11:21 GMT
Park and pay but no need to display
Woman using a similar parking system in Edinburgh
Drivers can ring to pay for a space
Fines for over-staying at a pay-and-display car park could become a thing of the past under a scheme due to be trialled in London.

The initiative allows drivers to start and end the parking payment with a phone call.

Drivers will have to get a special card and place it on their windscreen. Traffic wardens can then electronically check whether payment has been started.

The scheme is being piloted in Putney, south-west London, from February.

A similar scheme was launched in Edinburgh in October.

Ruud Veltenaar, chairman of Dutch firm Parkmobile which will run the system, said: "You only pay for the exact time you have parked and you do not have to worry about rushing back to your car before your payment runs out."

It could mean never having to pay a parking fine again
Wandsworth Council's Kathy Tracey
Drivers, who do not have to be Wandsworth residents, can order a transponder card direct from Parkmobile.

The company will then set up a secure payment arrangement.

To activate the charge, drivers phone the Parkmobile number and key in a three-digit code corresponding to the section of road where they have parked.

The code will be marked on lamp columns and pay and display machines so that the call can be made from the car.

The second call to terminate the stay is even shorter. The combined cost of both calls should be no more than 10p.

'Worth trying'

Kathy Tracey, from Wandsworth Council, said: "It's got to be worth trying.

"Not only does it mean you don't need to carry the right coins but you only pay for the time the car is parked."

"It could mean never having to pay a parking fine again."

The service has been operating in eight European cities and will first be launched within the Putney controlled parking zone.

Existing pay and display machines will remain so drivers will still be able to pay with cash.

The company said it is also in talks with local authorities across the UK who have expressed an interest in the project.

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