A PRIVILEGE card scheme designed to benefit Hillingdon residents is being launched this month despite many concerns that have been raised.
The HillingdonFirst card will start to be delivered on Monday to every single resident of the borough over the age of 18.
The main two benefits of the card are cheaper parking for residents and discount in hundreds of shops.
However, some people are concerned it will drive potential customers out of the borough because even though parking charges for residents will remain the same as they are now, they will double for non-residents.
There are also concerns that it will be used as an ID card to find out where and when people have been parking.
Douglas Mills, cabinet member for improvement, partnerships and community safety, wants to reassure residents that this will not be the case.
He said: "We have put in place a number of safety features to stop people abusing the card for parking and the data will also be used to look at trends. We will use that information to improve Hillingdon rather than monitor the residents.
"The data can be kept for up to six years but we won't keep it any longer than necessary.
"The parking charges were going to be increased anyway and it's still more expensive for non-residents to park in other areas and Hillingdon has the lowest parking charges in London.
"If people honestly believe that this will change people's shopping habits it just doesn't stack up. It's a non-argument.
"We are the first borough in the country to do this on this scale so we are expecting there to be problems but we are putting in measures to support these problems, but by the end of summer the scheme should be fully operational.
"With this scheme we are aiming to go to the heart of what this administration is all about – putting residents first."
So far more than 350 business across the borough have signed up to the scheme to offer customers discount.
The cost of the cards and the computer worked involved in setting up the scheme is ?475,000. This does not include the cost of installing new solar powered parking machines, but the council has said the machines needed replacing anyway.
HillingdonFirst card facts
Parking charges will remain the same for residents, but increase for non-residents.
Free access to the waste and recycling centre in Harefield.
Under 18s who drive can register for a card.
Replace library cards.
Discount at participating shops.
Phase 2 of the scheme is set to start in spring next year and will include leisure centres, golf courses and theatres.
Call the helpline on 01895 556677 or go to www.hillingdon.gov.uk/hillingdonfirst if you lose your card, if you have not received one by the end of June, for more information or to find out what shops are participating.