Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Wheely Good Idea; Parking Permits Are a Thing of the Past for Residents Who Join London's First-Ever Car Clubs. Lucy Elkins Reports HOMES & PROPERTY

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Wheely Good Idea; Parking Permits Are a Thing of the Past for Residents Who Join London's First-Ever Car Clubs. Lucy Elkins Reports HOMES & PROPERTY

Article excerpt

Byline: LUCY ELKINS

AS MANY London home owners know, having a residents' parking permit is a bit like travelling on standby - it doesn't necessarily guarantee you a place. Many of the boroughs with the busiest streets are notorious for issuing more permits than there are spaces.

Kensington and Chelsea issues 44,000 yet has only 28,000 spaces, and it is a similar story in Camden and Islington, to name just a few.

Earl's Court resident Anne Russell is a PA who often had to park up to a mile from home, despite paying [pounds sterling]100 a year for her permit. Fed up with the inconvenience, and the spiralling costs of keeping a car in London, she sold her vehicle last February and became the first Londoner to join a car club.

Car clubs are neighbourhood schemes run by private companies, with funding from Transport for London. They offer members access to a car selected from a specially designated parking bay within a 10-minute walk from their homes.

The Kensington bay is in Hornton Street.

The annual membership is [pounds sterling]140 and use of the car is offered on a pay-peruse basis, typically [pounds sterling]2.30 for an hour or [pounds sterling]26 for 24 hours, plus 15p per mile mileage to cover fuel costs. A regular car would be a Vauxhall Corsa or a larger Astra Estate. All cars are non-smoking, they are checked regularly by staff, who organise cleaning, and fees include comprehensive insurance. If you have an accident and are found to be negligent, you may be liable to a one-off excess payment of [pounds sterling]150.

Cars can be booked over the phone or online, from half an hour to weeks in advance, and they can be taken out for anything from an hour to several days at a time. Members are issued with a swipe card with a PIN, so once they have booked they just get in the car and go.

Russell, 44, says the scheme is ideal for her.

"Having a car of my own in London was a real hassle. Now I have the benefits without the stress or expense. I can go away on the spur of the moment, or drive over to friends without worrying if I will be able to park near home if I come back late at night."

The charges cover insurance, MOT and servicing, and as the cars run on liquid petroleum gas they are exempt from the congestion charge. …

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