PARKING fines will be a thing of the past if a revolutionary ‘barrier-less pay-on-exit’ parking scheme comes to Dorchester.

That was the message for local businesses from West Dorset District Council’s parking manager Chris Graves.

Mr Graves addressed a packed breakfast meeting for the county town’s Chamber of Commerce at the Wessex Royale Hotel as he outlined plans for a pilot scheme at Wollaston Road.

He demonstrated a new state-of-the-art machine that uses cameras to detect vehicles coming in and out of car parks.

The machine enables motorists to set up an online account so they can simply drive in and drive out of the car park without going near the machine and they will be charged accordingly.

Shoppers and visitors will still also be able to use the machines as normal to pay when they return to their vehicles and prompts on the machine will also help them to enter any promotions available.

Mr Graves said that since taking up his post he had drawn up a four-year road map covering the improvement of all car parks in West Dorset.

He said he was also looking to embrace new technology to improve certain aspects of parking and offer things like pay on exit parking.

Mr Graves said: “The technology is out there and if used properly and used positively can do some very special things.”

He said that traditional pay-on-exit parking using barriers was not suitable for West Dorset’s towns as they can cause congestion and the fact that car parks were free after 6pm meant it would be cost prohibitive. Mr Graves said West Dorset District Council had been developing the pilot scheme for 12 to 14 months and would be the first local authority to adopt the system.

He said the pilot scheme was taking place in Dorchester as the town’s BID (Business Improvement District) had approached him about pay-on-exit parking and was keen to work with the council on the scheme.

Mr Graves was confident that the new machines would pay for themselves and said if it was rolled out would mean the end of the parking fines for expired tickets, which he said were against everything he stood for.

He said: “Should the pilot scheme be a success this is designed to, where the machines are operating, get rid of, quite frankly, that cancer of the parking enforcement world.” Mr Graves also confirmed that shoppers’ permits would remain in operation for the next two years.