At the County Council budget meeting on the 13th February the Liberal Democrats will be calling on KCC to provide Kent's parish and town councils and community groups with the support needed to get electric vehicle (EV) charging points in their areas.
The Lib Dems will be asking for a ringfenced fund of £500,000 to be spread over the next two years to help fund the procurement and installation of publicly accessible charging points in car-parks owned by the parishes and local community groups.
The provision of EV charging in Kent has been slow and well behind many other counties. According to Government figures, last October there were just 247 public EV charging points in Kent, equating to just 15 devices per 100,000 of population. (Go to www.zap-map.com/live/ to find EV charging points in your area.)
Almost all the public charging points are within the main towns, in retail store car parks or on motorway service stations, with very few in villages or smaller towns. Vast swathes of rural Kent have no public EV charging points for miles.
Ian Chittenden, Liberal Democrat opposition spokesperson for the Environment at County Hall commented, "The provision of Broadband in rural areas was ignored for many years while thriving in the centres of our large towns. Many rural areas still have very poor service years later.
"We cannot allow the same to happen with EV charging points. We must do everything we can to reduce the increasing air pollution that we experience every day in Kent and nationwide.
"The Government wants to encourage electric car ownership. But for many people, without private driveways or garages, electric vehicles are not a viable option. This is especially true for people living in villages and rural areas. Meanwhile, the providers of EV charging points are inevitably more interested in the larger urban sites which offer the best commercial potential."
This amendment will bring parish and town councils and community groups together. By taking advantage of KCC's purchasing power, it will make new charger installations more affordable and easier to deliver in less well populated areas. KCC will also provide technical expertise and advice, will help source Government funding and provide small top up grants where appropriate.
Trudy Dean, County Councillor and Parish Council Chairman of West Malling explains, "Parish Councils are important landowners in rural areas. We own Village Halls, Community Centres, Recreation Grounds, Sports Pitches, Allotments and even Cemeteries in some cases ..... and most have car parks. These are all ideal places to install electric charging points. However, Parish Councils are finding it hard to interest companies to provide and install the equipment because of their small size and, in some areas, companies are charging exorbitant fees even to visit the sites.
"Parish Councils are ideally placed to provide vehicle electric charging points in rural areas, but we need help to achieve it."