An independent councillor has accused York council of “hiding” unused electric vehicles as there are not yet enough charging points to power them.
Cllr Mark Warters labelled the situation an “embarrassing and expensive fiasco” after he shared pictures of several vehicles awaiting deployment at Harewood Whin, the former landfill site.
In 2020, the council agreed to replace its entire fleet under 3.5 tonnes with electric vehicles (EV) by 2030 – at a cost of £8m.
The council said work on installing the chargers was behind schedule, but that buying the electric vehicles early made financial sense.
Cllr Warters said: “Anyone wishing to run an electric vehicle would use their common sense and ensure they had appropriate charging facilities in place before buying the vehicle.”
The Osbaldwick and Murton councillor said he understood that contractors working at Hazel Court Eco Depot had cut through an electricity cable in June, which meant diesel generator backups were required “to keep the site operational”.
He added: “Subsequently, there’s been no increase in electric vehicle charging points, but hugely expensive new electric pickups and vans keep arriving with nowhere to charge them.
“How does the council get over this embarrassing and expensive fiasco? By hiding these brand new and unused vehicles out of sight.
“On an £8m procurement exercise, why can’t York council get basic things right? How much extra is this costing keeping the existing diesel fleet on the road while the expensive new replacements lay standing idle?”
Cllr Warters said the council was “chasing the unachievable net zero fantasy” with “a seemingly endless pot of money.”
Work behind schedule
A spokesperson for York Council said: “Our ambitious EV strategy has delivered 39 new electric vehicles to the council including the two electric waste vehicles.
“Thirteen of these are in operational use by the services, 15 are in the yard in the process of being deployed and 15 are at Harewood Whin awaiting deployment.
“Those that are being used are being charged either at the depot or at Hyperhubs and public charging points. There are more chargers to go into the depot and this work is underway.
“This work is behind schedule, partly due to a power outage and the associated works with dealing with finding existing cables at the depot which were not inducting as indicated on the plans.”
The spokesperson said there was no charge for storing the vehicles at Harewood Whin, as the council had agreed a deal with waste management company Yorwaste.
They added: “It is also important to note that the cost and demand for electric vehicles is rising so quickly that should we have waited for the infrastructure, the inflation would have driven the cost significantly higher, indeed the vehicles in storage are already more valuable now than when we purchased them.
“Also, and possibly most importantly, if we waited for the infrastructure before ordering the vehicles then we would be waiting around a year for vehicles to arrive, such is the lead in time for EV commercial vehicles.
“That’s why we took the decision to order so they were ready to deploy as soon as possible.”
An image shared by Coun Warters also showed vehicles off the road at a depot in Hessay.
The spokesperson said: “The vehicles at Hessay are not being stored, but awaiting fitting with racking for out building services trades, which has been delayed due to difficulties with supply chains.”