Electric car charging points installed in Canterbury at a cost of £15,000 have been used just FOUR times in the past year, it's been revealed.
The power sockets were installed at the city’s three park and ride sites last August, costing Canterbury City Council £5,000 each.
This week, it emerged the authority has pulled the plug on one in Wincheap after it was vandalised three weeks ago.
An electric car charging point
It was removed by the council at the end of July, but it is not certain whether it will be re-instated.
When the points were installed, the authority admitted it did not know how many green car owners there were locally, nor how many vehicles were likely to use them.
Bailey’s Nissan, thought to be the only electric car dealer in the city, has sold just two Nissan Leaf models in the past year, to people from Manchester.
The authority has since faced fierce criticism from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which branded it a “green vanity project”.
Campaign manager Eleanor McGrath said: “Only a small number of drivers will ever use this scheme that mostly suits those who only need to travel short distances, but everyone is stuck paying for it.
The charging points have only been used four times in a year
“The council must explain why so much tax payers’ cash was blown on this project when there was such little demand for it.”
Hersden resident Howard Myers agreed, comparing the purchase to “throwing public money down the drain” at a time of severe cuts.
He said: “Canterbury City Council should have found out from the DVLA how many electric cars were registered in Kent, and in particular the Canterbury area first before spending £15,000 on chargers.”
But the city council’s head of planning and regeneration, Ian Brown, says people are more likely to buy an electric car if there are local charging points.
He said: “We expect the market for the cars to grow in the years ahead as people gain more confidence in the technology and the cost of the cars comes down. This was always a plan for the long-term future.”
Meanwhile, Kent has received an additional £37 million in national funding to increase the number of charging points for the eco-friendly cars.
“The council must explain why so much tax payers’ cash was blown on this project when there was such little demand for it” - Eleanor McGrath
Kent County Council is expected to use the cash to create a further 75 publicly accessible stations, but it is not yet known if any more are destined for Canterbury.
The city’s remaining charge points, which are based in New Dover Road and Sturry Road, require a special card to use and are free for drivers of eco-friendly cars.
The DVLA says there is no need for an expansive network of public charging points, because most charging takes place either at the owner’s home or workplace.
However, it says some charging points are necessary to ensure drivers can top up when travelling longer distances, which is one of the biggest turn-offs for buying anelectric car.