PAY and display machines could appear on the streets of Darlington if a new car parking strategy gets the green light.

The idea will be aired at the transport forum meeting in the town hall on Monday at 7pm.

John Buxton, the council's director of development and environment, told the D&S Times that charges for on-street parking could be implemented in areas such as Duke Street and Beaumont Street.

Tickets would improve the turnover of spaces and make it easier for wardens to keep track of cars in time-limited streets.

"There is almost as much on-street parking as not," Mr Buxton said, "I am not saying we are going to do it. It would need to be looked at carefully."

He cited Redcar and Durham City as two places which already charged.

The draft document also suggests an electronic sign system informing motorists of spaces in town centre car parks - and better signs to them.

Park and ride is another option being looked at, with Faverdale and the Yarm Road area around Morton Palms being considered.

"The difficulty is that it is relatively easy parking in Darlington compared with congested city centres," said Mr Buxton. "I know Stagecoach would like to give it a try.

"We would like to get commuters to park on the edge of town and come in and go back on the bus."

But to be attractive, the cost of parking on the edge of town plus the return bus fare would have to be less than parking in the town centre.

That indicated a "significant increase" would be required in long-stay charges.

A general upgrading of car parks is planned with the most central, short stay area at Abbot's Yard receiving particular attention.

Discussion will also focus on whether pay and display should be replaced by payment on exit, certainly in multi-storeys.

Modern solar-powered machines capable of taking the euro are suggested and consideration should be given to those taking credit cards.

All new multi-storeys - such as those approved for Feethams and Commerical Street - should give change.

Another suggestion is to bring in season tickets for long-stay parks.

In a move to decriminalise parking, the authority might also take over the enforcement of on-street parking charges from the police.

Coun Nick Wallis, council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We are at the consultation stage with the strategy and we want to hear views on our proposals. There will be potentially more short-term spaces and more multi-storey spaces. Lighting, signs and security will all be improved.

"We will also be aiming to strike the right balance between long-stay and short-stay parking, to make sure it appeals to shoppers, commuters and visitors, while promoting the viability of the town centre.