Smart Transport

Local authorities must 'step up' to meet demand for EV charging points

Alfonso Martinez

Alfonso Martinez Cordero, MD of LeasePlan UK, calls for local authorities to play their part in supporting the development of the UK's charging network.

The evolution of the UK’s fuel network from the opening of the first roadside filling station in 1920 to the 8,000-plus sites located across the country today is a useful analogy to draw from when we’re discussing the development of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

Watching the grainy, black-and-white YouTube clips of the early 20th century Aldermaston garage in action, you can’t help but feel the novelty and excitement of the moment. Nowadays though, you wouldn’t think twice about pulling into a petrol station and filling up your car. It’s so ingrained in our everyday life that it’s entirely unremarkable in every way.

It’s this sense of ‘not thinking twice’ that we need to keep sight of as we map out the expansion and improvement of the UK’s EV charging network. This is especially true on a local level. It’s here that drivers will see the tangible changes that influence their behaviour and lead them to go electric – whether it’s their neighbour charging their EV out on their driveway or fellow shoppers topping up their EV outside the local cinema.

We need to normalise electric charging in every neighbourhood and public space, in a way that means that drivers no longer have to think about it.

This is why local authorities (LAs) play such a vital role in the roll-out of a convenient and comprehensive EV charging network. They have a unique insight into the rhythms and behaviours of their local population and are therefore well placed to tailor the infrastructure to meet these requirements.

While it’s true that most charging will be done at home or at the workplace, there are several significant gaps that need to be filled in order to serve the wider community, many of which will fall to the LA. For example, in inner-city areas where people are more likely to live in terraced housing or apartment blocks without access to driveways, on-street charging becomes a necessity – particularly now when so many more people are working from home.

Ownership of residential streets normally falls to the LA, as with municipal car parks, therefore in most cases they are the gatekeeper to new public infrastructure. Government funding such as the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme is available to LAs, and it’s crucial that they take advantage of this.

We’re also behind the creation of dedicated ‘charging officer’ posts within the LA. Someone who can be a champion and source of knowledge for EVs and EV infrastructure within the council area. Not only would charge point teams plug the EV information gap that currently exists within certain LAs and reduce the bottlenecks faced by charge point operators, but local team advocates could help drum up support from the private sector.

Equally as important, they’d filter all important information all the way down to the driver, helping to dispel the myths around range anxiety and suitability that currently pervade the EV market.

Of course, LA projects are just one part of the puzzle: the Government must hold up its end of the deal by continuing its support through incentives such as plug-in grants and subsidies.

Withdrawal of this vital funding would only serve to undermine its messaging around decarbonisation and building back green post-pandemic, in a time when people are finally starting to wake up to the benefits of EVs.

Swift and decisive progress requires strong leadership from the top; with effective and readily available consultancy resource from the government, LAs can manage the roll-out with greater confidence and support private companies and the public to do their part.

Just like in Aldermaston, history is unfolding before our very eyes.

The future of driving is EV – that writing is already on the wall. But if we’re to enable as seamless a transition towards electric by 2030 without wasting a lot of money and disenfranchising a lot of people along the way through poor charging experiences, it’s essential that government and local authorities work together.

Collectively, we need to acknowledge that nine years is a very short time – in leasing terms, that’s just two leasing cycles. And demand will grow exponentially as we edge closer to the deadline, so early preparation is key.

Comment as guest

Login  /  Register


No comments have been made yet.

Related content

Office Address
  • Smart Transport
    Media House
    Lynch Wood
    PE2 6EA
Join the community
  • Register to receive our digital content / products and service / information about our events.
  • Register now.
  • Conference


Welcome to Smart Transport

Welcome to the Smart Transport website, keeping you up-to-date with the latest news, insight and reports from policymakers and thought leaders.

The Smart Transport brand connects policy to solutions by bringing national government and local authority policymakers together with private sector organisations.

Contact Ernest Olaseinde for more information.

© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd
Media House, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA - Registered number 01176085 IPSO regulated logo


Smart Transport members

Smart Transport board members


Please note:
By submitting any material to us you are confirming that the material is your own original work or that you have permission from the copyright owner to use the material and to authorise Bauer Consumer Media to use it as described in this paragraph. You also promise that you have permission from anyone featured or
referred to in the submitted material to it being used by Bauer Consumer Media. If Bauer Consumer Media receives a claim from a copyright owner or a person
featured in any material you have sent us, we will inform that person that you have granted us permission to use the relevant material and you will be responsible for paying any amounts due to the copyright owner or featured person and/or for reimbursing Bauer Consumer Media for any losses it has suffered as a result.