A RURAL car club bringing cheap and convenient transport to households without cars has been declared open for business.

Four cars will be managed by Richmondshire Council for Voluntary Services (RCVS) for discounted hire to local residents.

A Citroen C3 vehicle will be stationed in Richmond, Catterick Village, Catterick Garrison and Leyburn.

Richmondshire MP William Hague described the Cars4U project as a 'fantastic idea' at the launch on Friday.

He said: "I'm sure this scheme will be well received - this is a perfect area in which to have a car club. It's a wonderful idea, enabling local people to have access to a car without having to own it.

"I am sure this will be a very useful scheme to many local residents helping to reduce their transport costs whilst also providing environmental benefits.

"I hope it works well and I look forward to seeing the four cars buzzing around the area."

Judith Bromfield, RCVS chief officer, added: "Many people own mobile phones and pay as they go. Cars4U is based on the same principle.

"The club enables people to get rid of their second car or even first car, meaning congestion, pollution and parking problems will be reduced."

Members of the club pay £2 a week, plus £2.60 per hour and a 16p mileage charge every time they use a car.

Members will be issued with smart cards instead of keys and be able to book a car by internet or telephone.

Community group A1 Community Works Ltd has been working on the scheme with partner organisations for the past three years.

The project is funded up until March next year with £48,000 from the Countryside Agency and £25,000 from the North Yorkshire Community Fund.

After March, it is hoped the club will be self-sufficient.

For more details on Cars4U call Judith Bromfield, of Richmondshire Council for Voluntary Services, on (01748) 82253.