ELECTRIC car owners will no longer be allowed to park for free in council charging bays after Glasgow transport chiefs said some drivers were hogging the spaces.
The city currently has 65 electric vehicle charging points with another 14 in the pipeline, but councillors were told that the surge in electric and hybrid car ownership means that demand for the spaces is now outstripping supply.
Members of Glasgow City Council’s Sustainability and the Environment Committee have voted to impose a two-hour time limit for using in the bays at a cost of £3 per hour – the same rate levied on petrol and diesel cars parking anywhere in the city centre.
Electricity at the charging points will continue to be supplied free-of-charge and the shake-up will only apply to on-street parking bays, not those located in off-street or multi-storeys car parks operated by council subsidiary, City Parking. However, a spokesman for the arms-length organisation said it would be “watching with great interest” and would “consider our position in due course”.
The changes are expected to come into force by the end of this summer.
Papers submitted to the committee stated that the lack of parking fees or time-limits at present meant that “the bays are used for extended periods by one vehicle thereby limiting availability and inhibiting other drivers who require to charge their electric vehicle”. The new policy would therefore “[maximise]the availability of charge points to electric vehicle drivers” and keep Glasgow “at the forefront of low-carbon transport infrastructure”.
However, electric vehicle owners have slammed the plan and blamed hybrid car owners for causing the problem by “abusing” the free parking on offer.
Adrian Loening, a member and former chairman of the Electric Vehicles Association Scotland, said: “The issue is that people have been abusing the free parking because if you buy hybrid you can drive into the city, plug it in, leave it in a car parking bay all day and drive away without paying a penny even though you weren’t really charging your vehicle or you didn’t need to be charging it.”
Mr Loening said he had heard anecdotes of some hybrid car owners parking in the same spot every day for around eight hours while they went to work.
He said: “We’ve had discussions with Transport Scotland and Glasgow City Council about this and we’ve said ‘if you’re going to change it, what you should do is keep the same rules for pure electric vehicles but don’t allow the hybrids to use them for free’. We were told the problem with that is that it then takes the parking warden to understand which vehicle is which.”
Mr Loening added that the time limit would be “penalising for anyone in a pure electric car” which typically takes up to four hours to fully charge.
Karen Bain, an electric car owner who regularly travels from Uplawmoor in East Renfrewshire into Glasgow, said the rules would alienate EV drivers.
She said: “I’m absolutely disgusted. They’re just going to discourage people from buying electric vehicles if they go down this line.
"The way of resolving the problem in the city centre is banning the hybrids from using the charging bays and setting a limit of four hours."
She added that if the council were removing one incentive they should replace it with another, such as allowing electric vehicles to use bus lanes for free – a common policy in Norway which is also set to be introduced some English towns and cities, including Milton Keynes and Derby.
Motorists in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and South Lanarkshire already pay to use charging bays, while Moray Council charges for parking plus electricity.
A spokeswoman for Glasgow city council said: “This is to allow more electric vehicles to access charging points in the city and to stop bays being used for extending periods by just one vehicle.”
She added that it would be a "practical impossibility" to charge hybrid cars but not electric vehicles, and stressed that car owners were not supposed to use the bays unless they needed to charge their battery.