electric vehicle charging, pic by Ludovic Hirlimann

Councillors have backed calls for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points across Cheshire East as a report shows there are “extensive gaps”, writes Belinda Ryan.

They say installing more charging points in car parks would encourage people to buy electric vehicles, improve the environment and could be a money spinner for the council.

The council’s highways and transport committee discussed the Cheshire East Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy this week.

Richard Hibbert, the council’s head of strategic transport and parking, said in the middle of last year there were 2,100 electric cars registered with private users across the borough.

And with a ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, that number will grow.

The report acknowledged that “there are extensive gaps in current provision within Cheshire East. Notably, there is a lack of provision in the Macclesfield area and in areas of other towns where houses do not have off- street parking”.

Mr Hibbert said because most council car parks were in prime town centre locations this was ideal for charging points.

“I would be optimistic we could enter into this at no real cost to the authority, it might even be a revenue earner for the authority,” he said.

“We need to go through that commercial procurement exercise to get to that position.”

Cllr Mike Sewart (Poynton West and Adlington, Con) agreed saying: “I represent an area that’s got a lot of houses that open directly on to a road, they’re not going to be able to have a charging point. We have to cater for those people.”

He said putting charge points in council car parks would help boost the town centres.

“If we want to maintain footfall in our town centres we’ve got to cater for people taking their cars in and being able to charge these machines,” said Cllr Sewart.

He said some supermarket chains were installing charging points “but most of these are out of town sites so, if it’s only out of town sites where people with electric cars can go, that will make our town centres even emptier than they are now”.

Cllr Mike Hunter (Middlewich, Lab) said this could be a real income generator for the council at a time when it most needed it.

“It places us in pole position because of the car park estates that we own,” said Cllr Hunter.

“We need to make sure we take advantage of those opportunities because, if we don’t, we’re diddling ourselves out of money basically.”

Cllr Les Gilbert (Dane Valley, Con) said it was important the council kept people informed about their proposals.

“The closer we get to 2030 the more nervous residents without off street parking are going to be about replacing their old polluting petrol engines with electric,” he said.

“That’s a situation we don’t want to be in. We want to keep the public well informed and confident they can go electric.”

Cllr Don Stockton (Wilmslow Lacey Green, Con) said: “I’d like to be assured that we are working together with distribution and putting pressure on whoever we need to put pressure on that there will be some power to put into the cables.”

The committee voted unanimously to approve the draft Cheshire East Electric Vehicles Infrastructure Strategy as a basis for consultation and engagement and to approve a market testing exercise for a concession approach to delivering electric vehicles charging infrastructure.

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