Knaresborough businesses criticise ‘ludicrous’ empty electric vehicle charging bays
Last updated Mar 10, 2023
Electric vehicle EV Chapel Street car park parking
Empty electric vehicle charging bays in Chapel Street car park.

Midday on market day in Knaresborough last Wednesday brought a familiar sight — cars struggling to park.

Town centre parking is rarely easy in Knaresborough but the decision to allocate 10 of the 56 parking spaces in Chapel Street car park to electric vehicle charging bays has incensed some businesses.

While vehicles hovered around the car park for a space to emerge, nine of the 10 EV charging bays were empty. Business owners say it’s costing them trade and are calling for a rethink.

We spoke to several who were all at pains to point out they support better infrastructure for electric vehicles, but claim Harrogate Borough Council went too far, too soon by removing so many bays at once and a rethink is required.

The sole vehicle charging in Chapel Street when the Stray Ferret visited last week was being used by Bev Nelson, who is originally from Harrogate but now lives in Sheffield.

Ms Nelson visits Knaresborough every few weeks for a hairdressing appointment at Kelly Teggin Hair and Beauty on Castlegate and said the chargers were great for her but questioned whether so many bays were required:

Kelly Teggin hairdresser and Bev Nelson

Bev Nelson (seated) and Kelly Teggin

Chapel Street car park EV electric vehicles

Ms Nelson’s car was the only one being charged.

She said:

“We have a public car park near where I live in Sheffield which has two electric chargers. Ten does seem excessive.”

Ms Nelson pays via an app and hooks up a connection cable she keeps in her car. But although the charging process is simple, it isn’t quick: she needs to plug in for four hours just for 25% charge, which raises questions about the suitability of locating the charging bays in short stay town centre car parks.

Ms Nelson says she sympathised with Ms Teggin and other business owners who are feeling the impact.

Ms Teggin says:

“It’s hitting our shops really hard. I’ve got older lady customers who just don’t come to Knaresborough anymore.”

All the businesses we spoke to said some of the 10 EV bays should be made available to all vehicles until demand caught up with supply. Over time. more bays could be allocated EV-only, they said.

Garry Gilmour

Garry Gilmour

Garry Gilmour, director of estate agents Newby James, said:

“There’s never more than three out of 10 spaces taken. I worked in the motor trade for years and electric vehicles are good but I don’t think they have thought this through.”

No multi-storey car parks

Emma Brierley, owner of butchers Huttons, agreed, saying the current allocation had been done to meet targets for 2038. She said:

“They have taken too many spaces too quickly. There’s not the need at the moment for that many.

“We already lose parking spaces on market day because of the market so with this on top we are 30 or 40 spaces down.  We don’t have any multi-storey car parks like Harrogate or a big supermarket car park like Ripon.”

Emma Brierley Huttons butchersEmma Brierley

Gill Mitchell Stomp

Gill Mitchell

Gill Mitchell, owner of shoe shop Stomp, agreed.

“There’s a massive problem with parking in the town centre.

“Kelly has lost appointments which could be costing her £100 each. You can understand her frustration. It’s not as bad here because customers can come whenever they like.

“I can see both sides of the argument but it is a problem because some customers are saying ‘we can’t be bothered to come in because there’s nowhere to park’.”

Some traders said they weren’t sure whether non-EV vehicles parked in EV bays were actually getting parking tickets.

Harrogate Borough Council did not respond to this point when the Stray Ferret asked.

‘It’s been a big issue for some time’

Councillor Phil Ireland, the Conservative Cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability at Harrogate Borough Council lives in Knaresborough.

Last week he attended an event in Harrogate alongside rugby league legend Martin Offiah to mark the roll-out of 100 electric vehicle charging points in the Harrogate district.

Cllr Ireland said he understood and sympathised with the concerns:

“There’s always been this question of parking availability in the town centre. I know it’s been a big issue for some time”

But he added there were plenty of spaces just outside the town centre, such as York Place long-stay, which has 240 bays and is “grossly underused” although he acknowledged it was too far for some people. Knaresborough, he added, had good buses.

“Market day is always a pinch point. It’s popular and we do our best to keep it that way.

“But we’ve got to persuade people to invest in EV.”

Cllr Ireland said “range anxiety” deterred many people from going electric and the availability of chargers would address this.

He suggested groups like Knaresborough & District Chamber and Knaresborough Town Council could work with North Yorkshire Council, which will succeed Harrogate Borough Council at the end of the month, on issues such as running the market, which could lead to improvements.

Knaresborough market

Knaresborough market is held every Wednesday.

Net-zero by 2038

We put the traders’ concerns to Harrogate Borough Council.

In a statement, a council spokesperson said:

“To help achieve our net zero-carbon economy by 2038, and to support the demand and rapid uptake of electric vehicles following the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, we are installing almost 100 charging bays across the Harrogate district.

“In response to our ultra-low emission  vehicle strategy consultation, we received significant support for the creation of a public charging network. And thanks to a grant from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles we have been able to help meet this demand.

“More than 20 chargers will be installed in Knaresborough, including Chapel Street car park which is already being used by both residents and visitors alike.

“These bays, which are for EV charging only, account for less than three per cent of the more than 800 spaces available in Knaresborough, so we are confident that non-EV drivers will still be able to find a space in one of the six car parks in the market town, including York Place which is a five-minute walk from the town square. There is also plenty of on-street disc parking across the town.

“Any EVs who use a charging bay at Chapel Street car park, or any of the charging bays across the district, will still need to adhere to the maximum stay period (four hours) and pay for the amount of time they park for (pay and display), as well as the cost of charging their vehicle. There are no parking fees for charging bays between the hours of 6pm and 8am to help residents charge their vehicles overnight.”