THE DECISION to introduce number plate recognition to car parks in the Wycombe district has been likened to the actions of a shadowy authoritarian regime.

Wycombe District Council have been trialling the new barrier system in Wycombe car parks and intend to roll it out across the area from this month.

Councillors hope it will allow for greater flexibility and render parking tickets a thing of the past as people pay on exit.

But angry reader Chris Burmajster wrote to the Free Press to complain that the move takes surveillance of our every day actions too far and resembles the actions of the hardline dictatorship.

He said: “Why is the council introducing ANPR in car parks? It's a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Unless the real reason is the spread of the Surveillance State.

“They already track the movements of millions of innocent citizens going about their lawful business via ANPR and CCTV.

“Now they'll know where you parked and for how long. Have they been taking lessons from North Korea?”

However, instead of using the information for nefarious purposes in a similar way to the secretive, potentially nuclear-armed state, the council insists the system makes parking easier and allows driver to only pay for the time they use.

It works by reading number plates as they enter and exit car-parks and automatically calculates how long vehicles have stayed.

Payment can be made by cash, credit card, via the internet or on their mobile phones, with the council hopeful parking tickets will no longer be issued.

There is also the potential to introduce more flexible permits for long term parkers such as town centre staff in towns like Marlow and High Wycombe.