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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 07:01 GMT
'Park and ring' scheme launched
Woman using the parking system
Motorists can ring in to pay for their space
Motorists in Edinburgh are now able to use their mobile phones to pay for parking.

The mPark scheme launched on Friday is the first permanent one of its kind in the UK and aims to save motorists the trouble of fishing for loose change.

It will apply across the city centre, where 266 solar-powered pay and display machines have been installed.

Under the scheme, which was invented by Irish software firm ItsMobile, drivers calling a national hotline are asked to key in the parking meter's identification number via a voice prompt.

An electronic instruction is then sent to the parking meter, which prints out the parking ticket to be stuck on the car windscreen, displayed in the usual manner as proof of payment.

More and more people use mobile phones, it's very simple to use, I've tried it myself
Councillor Andrew Burns
The parking charge is then debited from a credit card or a special account. The whole process is said to take about 15 seconds.

Drivers can even receive a text message reminding them when their time is up.

A message sent 10 minutes before the ticket expires costs an extra 20 pence.

Councillor Andrew Burns said: "More and more people use mobile phones, it's very simple to use, I've tried it myself."

The technology has been developed in Dublin where it was launched in January. It has also been used in Hull.

Some 4000 parking spaces in the centre of the Irish capital are covered by 175 of the meters, which can be used with any mobile phone on any network.

BBC Scotland's Louise Batchelor
"The technology's changed but the rules remain the same"

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