CHANGES to the residents’ parking zones (RPZs) around Darlington have been announced in an effort to make the system more convenient for tradespeople and visitors.

Members of Darlington Borough Council’s place scrutiny committee had asked council officers to look at whether the system could be adjusted to solve smaller problems ahead of a wider review of the system in 2017.

Builders and tradespeople had complained about the length of time it took to call Darlington Borough Council to apply for a £5 permit each time they had to park in an RPZ to access a customer’s house.

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Some tradespeople had reported having to call the council several times a day to park in different areas of the town, at a cost of £5 each time, to carry out quotes or small jobs.

After consultation, council officers have come up with a long term waiver system that allows tradespeople to buy a permit lasting 13, 26 or 52 weeks – at a cost of £50, £90 or £150 – that allows them to park in RPZs without having to call for permission.

The move was welcomed by councillors, who were told that the new system will be introduced later this month.

The £5 individual pass service will remain for tradespeople who do not regularly work in RPZ areas.

Owen Wilson, the council’s economy manager, said: “For people who regularly need to park in RPZs for work, it was recognised that the system was not time effective from their perspective and also from the council’s point of view, it took up a lot of time.

“We don’t envisage a huge take up of the long term passes but we will monitor how well it works.”

Mr Wilson also announced plans for a six month pilot scheme to test whether passes for visitors to homes in RPZs could be introduced.

The areas for the pilot scheme have not yet been decided but residents will be asked to test either a scratch card system or a book of passes that can be dated, similar to those used in other authorities.

Mr Wilson said the system would be tested to make sure it works for residents before being rolled out across the town early next year.

He added: “One thing we need to make sure is that it’s not abused – there are instances in other local authorities of people selling their visitor passes to commuters and we don’t want to see that.”