By this time next year motorists travelling into Horsham could have their own online account to pay for parking in the town centre.
Cutting edge technology costing thousands of pounds is planned to be rolled out to car parks in a bid to enhance the shopping experience.
A vehicle number plate recognition scanner will clock motorists’ entrance and exit to car parks.
Parking charges will be logged into a personal online account where customers can use their credit or debit card to pay them.
Horsham District Council (HDC) has not ruled out creating special parking discounts for residents.
“The focus of everything we want to do is to make our residents’ lives higher quality and to give them a better experience when they come into Horsham,” said Roger Paterson, (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham) HDC’s cabinet member for the Local Economy.
He explained that the British-made technology, supplied by Newpark Solutions, has made tremendous progress in the last 18 months.
Residents had the chance to hear about the scheme when the technology went on display in Swan Walk shopping centre on Wednesday last week June 26. HDC plans to spend more than £50,000 on the scheme.
“It’s very sophisticated in the way it reads number plates,” he continued, “and what it enables customers to do is drive into a car park, the car is registered, they go about their business and when they come back they have a choice - either pay in the normal way or the second option is to set up a web account.
“We know from experience of PayByPhone - which has been much more popular than expected - that people like this cashless system.”
Mr Paterson said the council will work with retailers which want to offer parking as part of their services. He stressed that customers’ online information is stored safely and is not used by any other website.
“[The technology] is widely used, so it’s isn’t as if we’re starting something no-one else is using.”
Asked about creating special discounts for Horsham residents, he replied: “We will sit down and look at the financial aspects of it and see what we can do.”
The scheme, which as been planned for many months, will resemble the flexibility of London’s transport system. HDC hope to roll out the technology in the early part of 2014.