Council Could Spend £4m On Electric Vehicle Scheme

golf cart 2Scilly’s Council hopes to spend £4m on electric vehicles and charging points for locals.

The project is being included in the Council’s budget plans for the next three years, which councillors will be asked to approve at the Full Council meeting next week.

ScillyToday understands the multi-million pound plan, part of a £12m European Regional Development Fund bid with Japanese multinational Hitachi, includes a vehicle hiring and sharing scheme and electric vehicle charging points.

It will also pay for more street lighting around St Mary’s, powered by solar energy.

The Council says it wants to spend £750,000 in the next financial year on the project, followed by £2.25m in 2017/18 and £1m the following year, all funded from grants.

But ScillyToday spoke with two councillors who were unaware of the £4m proposal.

We’ve also been unable to find any reference to the electric vehicle plan being discussed by a Council committee.

Council Chief Executive Theo Leijser has stated that he’s keen on the wider adoption of electric vehicles on the islands.

He told his first public meeting after taking on the role in February 2014 that he’d “absolutely love” to ban cars from Scilly, allowing only some electric vehicles, as well as taxis, buses and emergency vehicles.

Theo said they’d done that on the Friesian Islands in his native Netherlands.

And in November 2014, the Council announced its goal of having electric cars making up two-fifths of vehicles in Scilly.

The Ash Futures Economic Strategy, commissioned by the Council and published in 2014, also included many of these ideas.

Councillors were assured over the summer that they would be given the chance to debate any proposals before they’re adopted as policy.

That has not happened yet.

The plan for electric vehicles comes at a time when many social services in Scilly, including Park House and leisure facilities, are under increasing financial pressure.

Last month members agreed an options report, which includes the possibility of closing the residential care home to save cash, raising fees and reducing staff numbers.

Although it is expected that grant money will be secured for the project, some recent schemes run by the Economic Development Team, led by Senior Manager for Strategic Development Diana Mompoloki, have experienced considerable overspends.

The Porthcressa and Airport Redevelopment projects both cost more than the grant money allocated.

Members at Tuesday’s Full Council meeting will be asked to approve the inclusion of the electric vehicle scheme in the Council’s capital spending plans for next year.

33 Responses to Council Could Spend £4m On Electric Vehicle Scheme

  1. Jenny March 7, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    The only electric vehicle is regular use on St Marys is the Buzza Bus. When I tried to book it the other day, being over 60, without transport, I was told it was off the road for months because no one on the Islands has a clue how to fix an electric vehicle. Why would you need electric points dotted around the Islands to recharge your electric vehicle. Most people will do what they they do now for recharging an electric buggy, use their house hold electric supply. I may have missed the point, but I would make a calculated guess the reason the numerous attempts of encouraging the use of electric vehicles on the Islands failed was because they are inherently unreliable, expensive to purchase and no one on the islands can fix them when they brake down. Please could the Councillors ask the Officers to concentrate on putting right the incomplete works of previous innovative and grant funded schemes and focus on local housing, a reliable sewerage system and a more resilient transport system.

  2. Local Worker March 7, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Before the Senior council employees get too deeply involved with this weird idea, would it not be a good idea to ask us locals what we think of it considering a large majority of us need our Vans and 4×4 etc to carry out our daily work and tasks and there is no equivalent electrical vehicle to replace them?

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins March 7, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      No, because jobs requiring tools etc are not in the council’s vision of the future. You should be sat in the shiny new innovation center innovating!!!!!!

    • Chargepayer March 7, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      You are right LW we have not been asked about so many of these daft ideas. Just imagine if all the present hire buggies are on charge plus say 200 local electric cars are also on charge overnight what are the implications for power supply? As I recall the load associated with charging is quite demanding on the power infrastructure, moreover the power is generated a long way from the point of delivery so the generating loss will be quite significant, so cleanish on the Islands but someone gets the greenhouse gases multiplied and delivered up the line. Not so green after all.

      • Fred Up March 8, 2016 at 10:40 pm

        Just like the new system of waste disposal, let it fester for weeks, pack it in bags with diggers which burn fossil fuel, take it down the quay on lorries burning fossil fuel, ship it out ( fossil fuel); repeat the exercise on the other side and then let some other community deal with it. Neither green nor innovative but most definitely expensive…..just what we’ve come to expect.

  3. John Allsop March 4, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Yes reduce polution great idea, but what pollution is generated making batteries, and at the batteries end of life what pollution is then going to happen. If 500 cars plug into the electric supply, such as over night, are there energy supply problems. If the idea is that the coucil can ban combustion engines and make people buy electric do they have the power to do that. If they have why not right now ban ownership of combustion powered personal transport in Hugh Town. If the coucil could visitors would love it and more would come. But the council can,t. If people want battery powered cars they will buy them now, hybrids are probably best anyway.

    • Ian T. March 6, 2016 at 9:50 am

      I have a friend with a large hybrid car and solar PV panels on his house roof. The panels charge the car during the daytime. Four of us went on a journey of about ten miles with him. The petrol motor only started the once up the very steephill to his house when, obviously, the electric motor had insufficient power.
      And, for the imformation of others, all electric vehicles are not golf buggies!

      • W.Att March 7, 2016 at 4:05 pm

        I congratulate your friend on his green credentials and realise from your previous comments that your modest motor car merely sips gas rather than guzzles but please do not preach to the inhabitants of these islands until you have ‘ gone electric’ yourself; moreover, should we all opt for electric vehicles on St Mary’s do you not think that with a mere nine miles of highway that we would probably be able to charge our cars at home?
        I’m sorry but I think that this is just another hair brained scheme by council officers who are completely out of control with no strong leadership to rein in the excesses.
        No doubt the four million will swell to six million if the usual pattern of over spend is repeated.

  4. Chris March 4, 2016 at 10:36 am

    What people need to realise, and quickly, is that this Tory Government see the islands as expendable. The more you wail and moan about the Council, the more it sees a community as a pain the ass and will look to end our stay here.

    As Adam says, we need to pull together, and the councillors are trying to do that for the most part (one or two notable exceptions who seem hell-bent on trying to start fires at every opportunity, for seemingly no reason at all).

    The ONLY thing that will protect us from a ruthless Tory government is for Scilly to become ‘useful’ to them. Smart Technology and wave power, those sort of things, are fundamental to our survival, we need to be seen to be a progressive place to live and capable of one day standing on our own two feet. The Government will then support us as we strive to get there, I’m sure of it.

    But if we ignore our predicament, and if we keep on holding our hand out for more and more money and DO NOTHING to help ourselves other than complain and try to keep Scilly as some 1950’s postcard of England just so that a handful of local ogliarchs can turn a profit, then the government are (rightfully so) going to put a stop to our way of life.
    Scared? You should be!

    Scilly, at present, is a holiday resort, plain and simple. It’s in everyone’s interest, aside from 85 year councillors who seem to care little about what happens 20 years from now, to develop Scilly into something more than that. If we do, then we will flourish, and the government will bend over backwards to help us with transport and anything else. But if we’re just a drain on their resources then the party will end very soon and we’ll be lucky to get a freight boat to take us to the mainland by 2030.

    The good news is that the Council seem to realise this, hence the Smart Technology project. In time hopefully the islands can also make use of the high winds, big waves/swell and the long hours of sun experienced on Scilly throughout the year to generate energy and make us even more important and financially stable/profitable.

    Embrace the future, and be thankful that the council is already moving towards this, so your children can thrive on Scilly and not be subject to more and more cuts and a diminishing standard of living. Everything on Scilly is great for the wealthy people, the home-owners, you know you can sell your house and move to the mainland if you had to. It’s the hundreds of young local people who can’t get a good job here, who can’t afford a home, who can’t even get into adequate social housing, and every generation after them, it’s them we need to plan for.

    Any councillor opposed to this is an enemy of progress, and is therefore an enemy of scilly and should be treated as such.

    • Morris March 4, 2016 at 11:24 am

      To quote from a famous tennis player ” you cannot be serious “

      • Chris March 4, 2016 at 12:18 pm

        Sorry, do elaborate on your reasoned point.

        • Morris March 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm

          Chris, any government irrespective of its hue would look at the council and reflect on the many poorly overseen projects notable only for the size of their cost overruns.
          What the Islands need now more than at any time in their past is an administration focused on the core needs of a stable tourism based economy (why do anything else as a main source of income given our location). To that end the council should be fighting tooth and nail to enhance reliable, convenient, comfortable and welcoming transport links. Instead we get the second most senior councillor suggesting a ludicrous and irresponsible 37% increase in landing fees.
          Exploring new and different revenue sources is always a good idea but the backbone of our economy will remain tourism and it must be nurtured to maximise it’s revenue and job creating and job securing ability. Our council in its current manifestation has shown itself to be an erratic and unreliable advocate for the needs of the community and until such time as it has done something (anything) of significance right it should shy away from the seemingly inevitable failure that regularly accompanies its other ‘Enterprises’.
          If they want a high profile cause sort out eldercare in a way that isn’t actually offensive to the community and leave electric vehicles to those with more dynamism and expertise rather than someone with a track record of repeated overspending and underachievement.

      • Henry March 4, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        That response, Morris, is exactly the problem – it is serious and yet when people like Chris point out what needs doing it’s just laughed at.

        I would like to add that it has nothing to do with having a Tory government – any pragmatic government would look at Scilly and wonder “why?”

    • saltsolution March 4, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Chris, Are you joking? The coucil has not got a hope of leading the islands forwards as you hope and it is the wrong strategy for Scilly anyway. Smart grid, cancelled, 4G, Here by Christmas, wave power, get real! Scilly is never going to be an energy hub and to whose benefit would it be anyway? It’s crackers!

      Scilly needs to capitalise on the low-key remote quietude that will become harder and harder to find on the mainland. This can be done in a way that provides sustainable support to small businesses and local livelihoods.

      I agree that creating island jobs and opportunities for the next generation is a critical issue. In fact I would go further and say winding down the council is the best thing that could happen in this regard. True, some would miss the bloated-grant funded central bureacracy, but necessity would bring about a renewed sense of focus and entrepreneurism. There would be widespread and quick improvement in service which is what the tourism industry wants. I have faith that Islanders are resourceful and capable to bring about a great future for the islands and that this is not dependent on council grants and not compromised by cost over-runs from unnecessary and gimmicky projects.

      • Chris! March 4, 2016 at 3:23 pm

        There’s nothing ‘gimmicky’ about moving towards lower emissions, and lower fuel bills, all underpinned by electric generated by the sun, sea or wind.

        Nah mate, just a ‘gimmick, innit.
        Cars were once a ‘gimmick’. As were mobile phones.
        And within 20 years, so will the Isles of Scilly.

        • saltsolution March 4, 2016 at 5:24 pm

          Come on Chris! …Solar powered streetlights?…. when nobody is calling out for extra street lighting? someone at the council is surfing!

          Budgeting 20k per resident for electric buggy charging points on an island with 10 miles of paved roads? It’s crazy. How many local jobs will it create? What is the marginal utility of these charging points? How much time will it save getting from Old Town to Hugh Town?

          In the real world, the smart grid won’t come, salt water fusion on Porthcressa won’t happen. So if you care about the environment, join a renewable electricity tariff (which is not expensive in Scilly), and put solar panels on your roof. Job done. If you think electric cars are really what Scilly needs for the next 20 years, set up a dealership! Why wait for Theo and Amanda to get there first?

          If you become a councilor, please focus on transport, care, education, sewers, and jobs maybe even the dog poo situation. But blinging up the rest of the islands to look like a second rate Heathrow Terminal 5 will leave a legacy in 20 years that will look even worse than the Museum does today. It’s not progressive and it is not a good use of public money.

    • Mark Prebble March 4, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      An enemy of progress eh…Chris, there are currently a number of vacancies for a Councillor to speak for the dissafected and underrepresented of St Mary’s. I ‘d like to discuss signing your nomination paper so that you can work with those others who you see as progressive.

    • Chris! March 4, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      And people who think they can trample over the futures of the young people of Scilly might have a very rude awakening in the coming years, when I foresee more young people realising that the real power lies in the hands of the councillors, and the young will join the council en masse and push through everything that the old guard are too scared to do.

      Don;t you worry, I’ll be going out of my way in the coming years to talk more and more young people into standing for election. It only takes a couple to start it in motion.


      • Mark Prebble March 4, 2016 at 4:50 pm

        Why wait. The sooner the future is in the hands of those who’ll be living it the better. There are at least 4 voices missing from any of the informal meetings that pass for debate, discussion and consensus on the way forward within the current Council’s elected structure. It’s not good enough and next year they’re all up for reelection, every single one of them. Start your campaigning now.

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins March 4, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Let’s be clear, The absence of this technology does NOT prevent people from installing solar panels etc or charging their own vehicles . It will NOT provide cheaper electricity to any but the people who invest in it and it will NOT benefit the government one way or another.Essentially it is a fancy electric meter that tells you how much you are generating or using and will no doubt mean jollies to Japan for those involved! Any money generated by this scheme will go to whoever owns it and invests in it . Any wave power scheme will involve money from multinational companies and they will naturally reap any unlikely rewards NOT us. There is no free for all despite what the Council CEO may seem to indicate! If we develop generation stations then it should be for local investment on a scale locals can afford which is NOT what is on offer!What is on offer is known as asset stripping . Do you seriously think the Council will be handing out free electric & vehicles to any but its own and on St.Marys?

  5. Stuart Moore March 3, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    If we vote to leave the EU (and I truly hope we do) then there will be no grants to pay for such a scheme.
    If we choose to stay in the EU, the council might get a grant to install the infrastructure, but it won’t get one for the year on years costs which will have to be met from the council tax.
    So the question is, has this been factored into the councils budget/accounts once the nice people from Hitachi have ‘trucked off’?

    In my view the council would be better off concentrating their efforts on getting a government subsidy to resolve the islands transport links with the mainland and breaking the ISSco monopoly, something that would benefit islanders and visitors alike.

  6. saltsolution March 3, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    This proposal highlights three things.

    1. That Theo is in cloud cuckoo land on priorities and budgets, Councilors should not approve the budget until it is split between crackpot grant funded gimmicks and essential services. How else will Amanda be able to track where overspends are happening and prevent financial mess from worsening?

    2. That this scheme forgets what people like about the islands and why they are special, visitors will not be attracted by for solar street lights or electric buggies. Dont turn the islands into a futurama resort.

    3. That the Council has taken a very narrow view of entrepreneurism. Taxis, buggy hire, bike hire and the airport shuttles employ a good number of locals. A council led scheme would cost users no less than the service provided now, but Hitachi is not a charity and local businesses cannot compete against grant funded enterprise. Sustainability is not about whether the islands run a rusty bus or carbon fibre buggies, its about building opportunities for jobs like bus drivers and bike or buggy hire businesses. It is not small minded to prioritise and protect local enterprise. In the long run, that is what matters.

  7. Enquirer March 3, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Yet again another Grand Scheme for the Council to pursue. We have an Airport which is not fit for purpose and was over budget, Porthcressa Regeneration Scheme which was over budget and the Innovation Centre which is still mainly devoid of any tenants. I would suggest that they should get rid of their highly paid Senior Manager for Strategic Development thus saving a meaningful amount of their budget and concentrate on getting their failing organisation functioning properly, in particular the Finance section.

    Councillors for once finally show that you have some control of your (and our) employees and squash this idea before it gets started.

  8. Adam Morton, St.Martins March 3, 2016 at 6:32 am

    This can easily be done by individuals and even encouraged. It is NOT a priority, unlike affordable transport. What are these buggy drivers going to do other than drive around administrating grants? Every other activity is uneconomic or will be very soon.
    Our MP announced that he wanted to see an end to low wages and Theo Leijser said much the same which sounds great on the face of it except that in reality it means get rid of all the people on low wages not helping them ! The islands have to improve efficiency to survive and that cannot be achieved when you wait five days for a milk delivery or a machine part as well as paying more than its worth in shipping and wasting your time looking for it! A new quay extension or electric buggies don’t affect this!

  9. Morris March 2, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Is this the 3 million pound scheme with the overspend built in?

  10. Dave Mountain March 2, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    If hitachi want to put electric power points in, why does the council have to underwrite it? Is there any risk to Scilly tax payers? Seems like there has been problems in this grant chasing dept in the past – What kind of evaluation goes into what gets into the councils future plans and what doesn’t?, if any?

  11. John Allsop March 2, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    So the coucil will spend 4 million on electric cars, do we get one per household. But seriously more cars on Scilly only the council could come up with that. Where do they all park when not being used.Or when used for shopping.

    • Ian T. March 3, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Simple – get rid of the oversized gas-guzzlers. Who needs them?

  12. garry macdonald March 2, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Looks like their must be a grant available for this, how many more grants are going to be available? Surely they will stop when we leave Europe then who are the next lot of mugs that is going to give us money??

  13. Novello March 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    ”The future is electric”. Yes – we’ll drive around in electric cars while our ‘green’ power is produced by huge coal, gas and nuclear power stations in Yorkshire…

  14. saltsolution March 2, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Will they be automated and driverless pods? (I mean the vehicles, not the councillors.)

  15. Ian T. March 2, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    This will generate the usual protests from those who couldn’t possibly be seen driving around in anything that is not a big gas-guzzling 4WD SUV. Yet, this is the obvious solution for any small isolated community like Scilly and, in fact, the latest electric vehicles come in variious sizes and prices so you could satisfy most of your macho instincts.

    On a recent visit to Norway, I was surprised by the number of electric cars ranging from small cheap Mitsubishis to large expensive Teslars. Thye all benefited from no road tax and not having to pay tolls plus the ability to drive in bus lanes.

    As a certain advert says at the moment ” the future is electric”.

    • Sue M March 2, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      I’m sure this would be lovely for us and won’t cost us anything as its coming from grants. But the question is, should council officers be employed to run these types of projects when we need to sort out important infrastructure like our sewers, not to mention the very big risks facing park house at the moment. During these times of austerity, the council needs to focus on front line services.