BRADFORD council will begin the roll-out of a new virtual parking permit system across the district, including Ilkley, in April 2020, despite objections from local councillors.

The new virtual permits are electronic and can be identified by officers using a registration number plate scanner. This will stop fines being issued mistakenly when permits fall to the floor of the car or when owners forget to display them.

People will no longer need to order and display paper permits and the new virtual permits will take effect immediately without having to wait for it to arrive in the post.

The Council says the new system is more secure, more reliable and motorists can receive reminders before permits expire.

A council spokesman said: "Virtual permits also cut down on paper both in the office and at home. The new system will be simpler and easier than the old paper-based permits.

"People can register online by providing their address and creating a password.

"Applicants will be asked to provide proof of address and the registration location of their vehicles. For visitor permits, residents can add the registration of the visiting vehicles.

"Where people don’t have access to a computer, they can use the computers at the local library, ask a friend or relative to create an account or use a smart phone.

"The council will also offer a helpline which people can call for support when processing an application or registering a visitor.

"The council has successfully piloted an online permit application process for over two years and is confident the virtual permits will work well.

"Virtual permits have been working successfully in other authorities and many other councils have announced they’re moving to a virtual system."

The council has written to Ilkley permit holders explaining the pending changes to the permit system.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, added: “Our new virtual permits system will be quicker, more convenient and more reliable than the older system. The new web-based will also dramatically reduce paper use.”

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) said: "The virtual system sounds stream lined and efficient. However, it will cause stress and turmoil to many. Residents need to have paper copies so they can happily hand over to unexpected guests as an example.

"I have been contacted by many older people who are extremely worried about the whole matter. One resident said to me 'I have a computer but don’t find it easy to use on a regular basis. However over 50 per cent of residents in this block of flats don’t even own one never mind being computer literate'. I read out a letter saying this to Bradford Council but to no avail. As I also reminded them at full council - council, councillors and officers are servants of the tax payers (residents and businesses) - the residents and businesses are not the servants of the council."

Councillor Kyle Green (Con, Ilkley) put forward a motion at a meeting of Bradford Council demanding the retention of physical parking permits, but it was rebuffed.

The motion acknowledged the cost saving and environmental benefits of virtual permits but sought to ensure that for those who need physical permits this option was retained.

Cllr Green said: "Instead of listening to residents’ valid concerns, Bradford Council is once again pressing ahead with plans that are ill thought through and will have a negative impact on vulnerable people's lives.

"While the council claims to have mitigated any issues by suggesting residents can phone the council to update permits, this will cause an additional burden and cost to residents (especially as the council number is not free to call) given that some residents will have a number of visitors on a daily basis, perhaps using visitor permits to provide home care. "There is no justifiable reason the council could not retain the option of physical permits for the most vulnerable in society who will be the most affected by this virtual only change."

Between April and June both the physical and virtual permits will be in operation giving people time to register.