THE new pay on exit parking system is due to go live in seven Taunton car parks this autumn - in time for the Christmas shopping rush.

Taunton Deane Borough Council is working with contractors to complete the installation of equipment at the Orchard, High Street, Tangier, Canon Street, Wood Street, Castle Street and Enfield car parks.

The complex project, which has included ground works, installation of barriers, machines and cabling, is due to finish by end of this month.

A period of testing and training will then take place with the aim of going live in early November so that the scheme should be up and running ahead of the busy Christmas period.

The council has already installed Variable Message Signing (VMS) at key locations such as Priorswood Road, Cross Keys, Toneway, East Reach, Silk Mills and Wellington Road.

The VMS will help drivers find car parks and know how many spaces are available and the type of parking – short stay, long stay and commuter.

It will avoid them having to drive around to find a suitable space and should ease queuing and reduce congestion.

Cllr Richard Parrish, executive member for transport and parking at Deane House, said: "This £1.2million scheme of significant improvements to car parks and signage should make a real difference to drivers in Taunton.

"VMS will really improve the flow of traffic and help drivers find the space they need quickly and efficiently, while pay on exit will mean people do not have to rush back to their cars while shopping, dining or on business in the town.

"This is a great example of the council working to make parking easier for residents and visitors while improving the traffic flow and in turn reducing air pollution.

"I’m looking forward to seeing the improvements in place."

Meanwhile, the council is introducing "small increases" in the cost of using some car parks.

A spokeswoman said a new charging regime will give motorists "a clear understanding of where parking is available and for how long you can stay there".

She added: "There are small increases for some car parks. Other car parks will remain static in their charging for short stays, while for longer stays in the majority of car parks, it will be cheaper for most people."