A councillor has called for a cautious approach to installing electric vehicle charging points in Lichfield.
The issue was discussed by members of Lichfield District Council’s cabinet as part of a debate around a new car parking strategy for the city.
The document outlines plans for increased electric vehicle charging points as part of long-term city centre development proposals.
But Cllr Angela Lax, cabinet member for regulatory, housing and health, said the council should not rush into the installation of such facilities.
“Every time this comes up we are told we must have more.
“I approve of not rushing in – let’s see what the demand is and how it works out rather than just putting them in for the sake of having them in and then saying we’ve got them.
“Let’s be careful in how we proceed so we do it at the right time in the right way, because phone charging was a right mess for ages in the early days.”Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council
But other members of the cabinet said the council could not afford to drag its heels on the introduction of more provision for electric vehicles.
Cllr Rob Strachan, cabinet member for finance, said:
“If we are identifying demand through survey then that will always lag behind the demand that’s driven by the environmental situation and the planned petrol and diesel phase out by 2030.
“To increase the points in our car parks is positive, but I would encourage planning for a far wider installation.”Cllr Rob Strachan, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Richard Cox, cabinet member for community engagement, also said holding back would see the local authority left behind.
“I do differ in opinion with Cllr Lax on the electric vehicle charging points.
“If we’re not careful in bringing that forward that we could fall back behind the curve rather than be ahead of it.
“Demand will only be greater in future so I would urge that we don’t drag our heels and just wait and see.”Cllr Richard Cox, Lichfield District Council
“We’ve got to get it right”
The meeting also heard calls from Cllr Lax for consultation with other areas where electric vehicle charging points have been installed.
“We’ve got to get it right in terms of linking use of electric vehicle charging to charging for parking.
“People were going into Birmingham when it started and sitting in the charging points as a cheap form of parking.
“After I approached a chap he told me he’d driven in to plug in for free parking all night in Birmingham.
“It’s not just a case of putting them in, it’s quite a complex thing and we’ve got to get it right.
“Let’s look at how other cities have done it and what really works and is effective rather than just put them in to boast that we’ve got loads there.”
Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the council, said he was keen to ensure the city had the correct infrastructure to serve the needs of drivers of electric cars in future.
“We have committed to keeping up with demand with electric vehicle charging points.
“There are a number of technologies and what we don’t want to to do is spend a fortune on the wrong infrastructure that’s immediately outdated because we’ve backed the wrong horse.
“We’ll absolutely use best practice from elsewhere.”Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council