THURROCK Council could introduce "car clubs" as part of its new parking strategy, with rental cars set to be offered to residents on a short-term basis.

The council has released its draft parking policy strategy which will overhaul everything from parking charges, parking outside schools, pavement and HGV parking to reducing car use across the borough.

Car clubs work by providing access to a car on a short-term rental basis, charging by the hour or the day. They are booked online or by phone and then unlocked from a designated bay.

The clubs provide access to people who may not own a car or for trips to places not easily reached by public transport.

Users benefit by not having to pay for car tax, fuel or maintenance.

It is estimated that one car club car replaces more than 20 private cars, helping to reduce congestion and free up parking spaces. If they get the go ahead, they coudl be introduced close to railway stations, public transport interchanges and major retail car parks within five years.

Parking in Thurrock is still paid for with credit or debit cards at pay-and-display machines after vandalism forced the council to no longer accept cash at the machines.

Alternative methods to parking pay-and-display machines are also being explored, including the use mobile phone apps which allow swift payment which logs length of stay that can be transmitted directly to enforcement officers.

The council is also looking at how to benefit from parking revenue. Rather than just blanket annual increases the council will look at charging more in busy areas and reducing charges in less busy spots.

A report to the Planning, Transport and Regeneration Overview & Scrutiny Committee, said: “Whilst on and off-street parking charges will be reviewed annually by the council, they will be looked at on a more commercial, demand driven review basis, rather than simply as a regular price increase.

A key consideration when setting parking charges is that, in some instances, reducing parking charges may increase parking demand and turnover, benefitting the local economy and, at the same time, increasing, rather than reducing, parking income.

“In contrast, higher charges can result in less demand which, with less turnover may, counter-intuitively, generate less income than a lower charge.”

Pavement parking, HGV parking and ways of tackling parking outside schools are also included in the draft strategy.

Councillors will discuss the strategy on Wednesday.