Should we get in the (car) club?

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Just swipe and go: none of the worries of ownership and none of the expense. Is this the way forward?

Some friends recently thought that they would like to move from the countryside into Rye, to be within walking distance of all the delights and facilities that the town has to offer. However, they decided against this move because of the problem of parking their car.

Would they have decided differently if there were a car club in the town? Car club members have the use of a car without the worries and cost of maintaining and insuring it and also have a dedicated parking bay close to the town centre. Carplus, a national organisation that promotes car clubs, reports that there are 570 in the UK with more than 20,000 active members (excluding London).

Once signed up as a member, cars can be pre-booked on line or over the phone from a location nearby. A smart card, held over a reader mounted in the car, will unlock it. At the end of the booking the car is returned back into its bay. The car club will send an invoice for its use each month. It is as simple as that.

Co-Wheels – one of the larger car club operators – has the following charges for the use of a car: £4.50 per hour, £9 overnight and £27 per day. There is no charge for fuel – if is needed, it is bought using a fuel card provided by the club and they pick up the bill. If there is an accident there is a number to ring and they will look after you. If it turns out that the accident was actually your fault, you might have to pay the excess of £250. There is a useful guide on their website.

Car clubs are ideal for electric cars as the parking bay can be fitted with a charger. Hiring an electric vehicle can be substantially cheaper as the maintenance and running costs are so much less.

I hope a proposal for a car club in Rye would be supported by the Town Council. It would also be helpful if the idea could be included in the Neighbourhood Plan. If there is support and enough locals show interest, then I am sure the Rother Environmental Group would be happy to take on the task of drawing up a proposal. Car clubs are definitely more energy efficient and could help reduce the number of cars on our roads.