CITY residents are being advised to get a new SmartCities card, which will allow locals to avoid the new 20p Itchen Bridge toll increase.

The free card allows users to top up by bank transfer, like the similar Oyster Card in London, and be used instead of carrying change.

However civic chiefs have confirmed that only motorists who live within the Southampton City Council boundary will receive the “residents’ discount”.

It can still be used by any motorists, but they will have to pay the new increased charge.

As reported, this will be the first toll rise in two decades.

Currently it costs cars, and small vans, 50p to cross the bridge (60p at peak time), but the new charge will see this rise to 70p (80p) from April.

The new crossing toll will also bring in some extra cash for the council, with the rise expected to raise £510,000 a year.

However, Council leader Christopher Hammond has confirmed this will go towards maintaining and upgrading the bridge, with the introduction of contact-less bank card payments also expected “soon”.

The move comes as part of the council’s budget, which was approved yesterday at Full Council (Feb 20).

This included a 2.99% council tax increase, and the closure of the Glen Lee care home in Bitterne, which civic chiefs hope will save around £1 million a year.