Drivers will have to start paying to park at guided busway park-and-ride sites in St Ives and Longstanton this week.

But help will be at hand – in a move to avoid confusion and delays, the county council has said it will have advisors on site to help.

Parking fees come into force on Thursday (May 14) and drivers will have to pay, or risk falling foul of a 
newly-installed automatic number plate recognition system (ANP).

Concerns about possible delays and complaints from motorists were raised last July after the system was introduced at other park-and-rides in the county and drivers struggled with the new technology.

However, Cambridgeshire County Council, which runs the two sites, said it would be monitoring the situation.

“We believe the system is fairly straightforward, but we understand that people may need some assistance in the early days so we will have staff on site to help,” said Joseph Whelan, head of the county council’s passenger transport services.

“Our intention at this stage is that we will be on site for one to two weeks, but we can extend that period, if necessary.”

The cost of parking for up to 18 hours is £1 and up to 24 hours it rises to £10, but those who stay for less than one hour can do so for free. There are discounts for season ticket holders and parking can be paid in advance by going online.

Anyone who fails to take note of the new charges will receive a fixed penalty notice likely to be between £50-£70.

The county council has issued the following advice:

* Take a note of your car’s registration as you will need to enter it into the ticket machine.

* You are not required to display the ticket in your vehicle as the ANP recognition system will track the parking payment.

* If you have a Stagecoach or Whippet season ticket or Smartcard you must still pay for parking if you are staying longer than one hour.

*Concessionary and Blue Badge holders must also pay for parking if staying longer than an hour.

INFORMATION: For more details, visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk.