VISITORS and residents who use car parks across Hambleton a million times a year will now be able to pay by every possible method councillors have agreed.

Hambleton District Council is bringing in the changes to ticket machines at their car parks in Bedale, Northallerton, Stokesley and Thirsk. They include the introduction of new ticket machines that will accept payment by cash, debit or credit cards and mobile phone and mobile devices. The authority says bringing in the cashless payment system will allow motorists to pay for their parking via an app on their mobile device, online, by text message or a telephone call.

"We are increasingly living in a cashless society and we therefore need to offer flexible ways for both our residents and shoppers to pay for their car parking," said Councillor Isobel Sanderson, portfolio holder for Governance.

"The new payment methods will also allow people who have parked in short stay bays in most of our car parks to ‘top up’ their ticket without having to return to the car park."

The changes are part of a £550,000 two year car park improvement scheme for facilities across the district. The authority says parking bays will be made bigger, electric car charging points installed, signage updated, and additional cctv cameras brought in to improve security.

Over one million drivers use the car parks every year, bringing in around £710,000 for the council. The scheme is part of the developing Vibrant Market Towns scheme.