Woking Borough Council gives away free EV charging in IT error

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A council in £2.6bn of debt is giving away up to £148,000 a year of free electric vehicle charging due to an IT error, it has been revealed.

Outdated IT systems have hindered Woking Borough Council’s ability to charge motorists at Red Car Park in Victoria Square. The cost associated with this technical issue is equivalent to the amount required to sustain a community bus service grappling with funding cuts. Councillor Leslie Rice expressed dissatisfaction, stating that the situation does not reflect well on council officers. In June, the Surrey local authority implemented emergency spending restrictions on itself due to its debt, halting all spending for non-essential services after issuing a Section 114 notice.

During an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, the disclosed figure prompted calls for the immediate shutdown of electric vehicle charging stations at Red Car Park. The hope is that the saved funds could be redirected to support community projects struggling with funding cuts. Last month, the chief executive of Woking Community Transport raised concerns about the impending threat to its service agreement due to council funding cuts. The Bustler service, providing door-to-door community transport for individuals with mobility challenges, requires approximately £150,000 to be saved.

Councillor Kevin Davis emphasized the need to reevaluate the provision of free electricity, suggesting that the funds saved could be allocated to various initiatives, given the considerable amount involved. Councillor Leslie Rice stressed the importance of transparency and good management practices, expressing dissatisfaction with the delayed disclosure of the situation during the meeting.

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