Council defends putting EV charge points in Knaresborough car park after furore
Last updated Nov 24, 2023
Chapel Street car park, Knaresborough. Pic: Google.

North Yorkshire Council has defended the controversial installation of electric vehicle charge points in a Knaresborough car park after traders claimed it was putting shoppers off visiting the town.

Ten of the 56 regular parking bays in the town centre Chapel Street car park were turned into electric vehicle-only spaces with charge points at the end of 2022 by the now defunct Harrogate Borough Council.

Since then, however, there have been reports of the spaces reserved for EVs laying empty, which has angered traders particularly on busy market days when it is hard to park.

A petition set up by hairdresser Kelly Teggin against the move has been signed by over 500 people. In September, Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors made several requests to North Yorkshire Council regarding the car park.

Requests included asking the council to renegotiate the contact with the charge point provider, so it can roll out the infrastructure in a more “phased” manner to enable people in non-EV cars to park in some of the bays.

Keisha Moore, senior transport planning officer at the council, responded to the petition and the requests at a meeting of Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors on Thursday.

Ms Moore referred to a report that was published ahead of the meeting but said the council’s approach to the charge points would not be changing.

The report warned any changes would “undermine” the council’s EV infrastructure roll out strategy, which aims to encourage the uptake of EVs and contribute to the council’s decarbonisation goals.

The council received a grant to install the charge points and Ms Moore added that any changes could lead to the government asking for its money back.

Liberal Democrat councillor for Knaresborough West, Matt Walker, expressed disappointment that there has been “no action” on the charge points and called on North Yorkshire Council to offer improved signage so residents better understand why they’ve been put there.

He said:

“The people of Knaresborough are crying out for a can-do council and the report goes short of understanding the issues. There’s no clear action on how we can make improvements to the parking and active travel for the town.”

Cllr Peter Lacey, who represents Harrogate Coppice Valley and Duchy for the Lib Dems and is also a member of the Knaresborough Chamber, said the council was “getting it wrong” by putting groups of charge points in the car park, rather than spreading them out across the town to encourage uptake.

The Chapel Street scheme was a pilot for the council and Ms Moore said the approach for installing charge points will differ across North Yorkshire.

She added:

“In order to get to a fair and equitable rollout across the county I don’t think we need to be putting 12 [charge points] in each and every car park.”

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