Town may try out free electric car charging-point

A MARKET town in Suffolk may become one of the first in the county to offer electric car charging-points.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is exploring whether to trial the charging points at the multi-storey car park in Parkway, Bury St Edmunds.

Electric car owners using the car park would be able to charge up for free – courtesy of the borough council.

The borough council’s cabinet will decide on Wednesday whether to accept the recommendation to go ahead with the trial.

The officers’ report said regionally both Cambridge and Ipswich local authorities were preparing to introduce electric vehicle (EV) charging points so introducing them in Bury would “provide a vital central geographical link”.

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The report said: “At present, there are no publicly accessible electric car charging points in or near Bury.

“The supplier of the ticket pay machines, Cale BriParc, had indicated that it wished to work in partnership with the council to jointly launch a new product to the UK marketplace, which entailed the offer of a free-of-charge six-month trial of two wall-mounted charging posts which would be installed at level six at the Parkway multi-storey car park.”

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Steve Nicholls, managing director of Cale BriParc’s UK operation, said the Bury St Edmunds scheme would be the first one the firm was carrying out in the UK.

He said: “A lot of people are looking into it, but how popular it will be and how it takes off will be determined by how many people buy electric vehicles.”

The officers’ report said a recent RAC survey found that 20% of British motorists were considering or planning to buy an EV or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), adding that emission cuts of up to 40% could be achieved.

Green Party county councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer said it was “really excellent” the borough council was leading the way with this initiative.

“This is a really good thing to try to do in Bury St Edmunds,” he said.

“We are known as a really green town. We are moving forward in so many ways.”

The installation of the equipment for the trial will not cost the borough council anything, but it will have to foot the electricity bill.

A borough council spokeswoman said: “To get the best possible response during the trial period, the council has agreed to charge the motorist for the cost of parking and to meet the cost of the electricity itself, which is estimated to be about �1 for a full eight-hour charge.”

But borough councillor Trevor Beckwith said: “I don’t agree with taxpayers paying. No-one pays for me to fill up with petrol – I don’t see why I should pay for them to fill up with electricity. You don’t get anything for free.”

An officers’ report said if it was decided to take the project forward, the issue of recovering the electricity costs would be reconsidered when car parking charges were next reviewed.

It added that after the review of the trial, the charging points would be offered to the borough council at a 75% discounted price of �1,081.

Under a Government-backed scheme, there had been plans to create a network of charging points across the UK.

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