Call-in of Chichester’s decision on electric vehicle charging network rejected

Chichester District Council has rejected a call from one of its own committees to rethink its decision not to join a county-wide electric vehicle charging network.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 3:34 pm
As ownership of electric vehicles increase, more charging points will be needed

Every other district and borough council in West Sussex has signed up to the county council-led strategy.

But in November, cabinet members voted not to join, saying it was not clear what impact such a contract would have, with the potential disadvantages outweighing the benefits.

The cabinet met again on Tuesday (December 8), where members stuck to their guns, despite calls from the overview and scrutiny committee to change their minds.

Penny Plant, cabinet member for environment, pointed out that 18 charging points had been installed in Chichester car parks and suggested that signing up to the strategy would see the council duplicating work it had already carried out.

She also raised concerns that the network’s charging points would not be the same as those installed by the council – prompting comparisons with the Betamax v VHS video recorder battle of the 1970s and 1980s.

An estimated 161,000 electric vehicles are expected to have taken to the county’s roads by 2030, with more than 7,000 charging points needed.

As such, Adrian Moss, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, stressed that Chichester’s 18 points would not be enough.

He added: “Our council has already declared a climate emergency and we need to be at the forefront of introducing electrical charging places – we shouldn’t be an outlier.”

Mr Moss said it was ‘obvious’ that Chichester should be part of a strategy that ‘brings together a standard across one county’.

He added: “West Sussex County Council has given us and all other districts and boroughs the opportunity to collaborate on an essential service and for this council to become a key delivery partner.

“We will actually write the contract with that partner. 

“If we are at the forefront we can become leaders with a strategy that combines a single solution that goes across the county.”

Cabinet members refused to be swayed by his words, agreeing with officers that now would not be a good time for the council to jump on board.

Simon Ballard, environmental protection manager, told the meeting: “We are very aware of the need for this charging infrastructure.

“We’re not saying ‘never’, we’re just saying we want to consider the full range of possibilities to the council to make the best offer back to the community and to use the council’s resources in the best possible way.”

It was agreed that the situation would be looked at again once more details about the contract were available.