Giles Coren calls for better electric car charging provision in Camden

Giles Coren has no working points near his house to recharge his car

Giles Coren has no working points near his house to recharge his car - Credit: Polly Hancock

A Kentish Town food critic says all electric car charging points near his home in Kentish Town are inaccessible or broken.

Giles Coren, who writes for the Times, has hit out at Camden Council for "not doing very well" to support him or the environment when it comes to electric vehicle support.

The council said it has "worked hard to build out the fifth most extensive electric vehicle charging network in London".

But having bought his electric car a year ago, Giles said he is unable to charge the vehicle on his street as non-electric cars are always parked in the charging bay.

Giles Coren has no working points near his house to recharge his car

Giles Coren has no working points near his house to recharge his car - Credit: Polly Hancock

He said an Ubitricity charging point on a neighbouring road has been broken for weeks and the number to call invalid.

"I have requested a lamppost charge-point near my home a number of times but been told that there are two nearby so no plans to put one in," he said.

"However, the one on [the neighbouring street] is broken and has been for some weeks now.

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"I have tried reporting it by phone but nobody at the council will take responsibility, saying it is down to the private contractor – in this case Ubitricity – but the number provided on the lamppost by Ubitricity doesn't work."

He said the charge point on his road is in such a congested spot that since he bought his electric car over a year ago he has "never, literally never, been able to charge at it" because of non-electric cars in front of it for long periods.

Camden Council's Electric Vehicle Charge Point Action Plan (EVCP) has committed to a minimum 10 Source London points a year which Mr Coren said is "pretty puny" adding that the cost of Source London, a faster charging point, is "prohibitively expensive".

"This is a wider environmental thing," he added. "You get your electric car because of ULEZ and then they do the pollution free streets around schools, which is all good, and they close all the roads around schools, put punitive taxing on diesel vehicles, then put this rubbish approach to electric charging."

A spokesperson for Camden Council said it is "consulting on" putting an additional charging point in Mr Coren's road.

A spokesperson said the council plans to restrict all bays adjacent to lamp column charge points in 2022/23.

There are currently three charging costs, with lamp columns being the cheapest at 24p per kwh. 

Source London's Fast charging points cost 39p/kwh to Camden residents with a valid parking permit, plus a monthly £4 membership fee and a pay as you go (PAYG) rate of 51p/kwh.

Rapid charge points have a rate of 30p/kwh, 25p/kwh membership plus a monthly £4.99 membership fee.

Cllr Adam Harrison said: “Camden Council has worked hard to build out the fifth most extensive electric vehicle charging network in London – and this is growing all the time.

"There are already 249 'lamp column' charge points across the borough, 72 'fast' charge points and 11 'rapid' charge points. We are planning to install a further 162 fast charge points this year.  

"But extra funding to support the rollout is much needed."

He said a tight budget "makes it harder to draw on our own resources" as the council has a "responsibility to maintain services ranging from libraries to social care".

It is supplementing funding for new charge points through ward councillors making available local Community Infrastructure Levy funding, which is paid by developers. 

"We still also look to the government to make further one-off funding streams available, although it would be much more empowering – and we'd have a quicker rollout overall – if the funding we have lost this last decade were restored for general use," he added.

"This would allow the council to spend on electric charging directly rather than going through endless application rounds when staff's time could be better put to use getting electric points in the ground rather than filling out paperwork.” 

Ubitricity apologised for the inconvenience and said it would send an engineer to the broken charge point. The  Ham&High successfully got through to its support number, +44 800 024 6279.

A Source London spokesperson said the company has been directly affected by rising energy costs, with "wholesale electricity prices increasing by unparalleled levels in the past few months".

They added: "We had to adjust some of our prices in November 2021 to ensure that we could continue to enhance our network and provide the same level of service to our customers." 

An updated EVCP Action Plan for the period 2022-2025 will be published by Camden Council later this year.

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