Plans to install electric vehicle charging points across seven car parks in the district are set to go before East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Cabinet.

This is one of a number of exciting projects, recommended for approval or investigation by the authority’s ‘Car Parking Task and Finish Forum’ (TAFF).

An investigation into how the car parks can be used at off peak times, such as the occasional evening cinema, farmers market or car boot sales has also been recommended by TAFF.

It is hoped it could generate additional income while also providing exciting services that residents and visitors can enjoy, although mindfulness would be needed so it does not encroach on existing businesses.

As well as this, the TAFF are keen to look at whether a small area of some car parks could be considered for hiring out electric bicycles so residents and visitors could explore the local area on two wheels rather than four.

The group has also recommended a number of trial contactless machines be installed to minimise the need for residents to touch buttons while paying for parking.

If given the go-ahead is given by Cabinet, the first part of the project will see charging points installed across seven car parks that are able to serve 14 vehicles at a time.

The TAFF hope the charging points will serve both residents and visitors alike, whilst reducing carbon emissions as the public move to using more electric and hybrid vehicles – supporting the EDDC emergency climate declaration and action plan.

The installation of the charging points comes as part of the Innovate UK funded Exeter Rapid Charging Project to install and operate up to 30 further rapid charging units in EDDC’s public car parks in 2021.

The TAFF has also supported further plans for another six or seven car parks to be considered for future expansion of charging points to meet any gaps in provision.

Drivers will need to pay to use the charging points but will not have to pay for parking as long as they don't exceed their charging time.

Councillor Val Ranger, who is the vice-chairman of the Car Parking TAFF and ward councillor for Newton Poppleford and Harpford, said:

Members of the TAFF were keen to congratulate officers for the work done on the future provision of electric charging points in our car parks.

TAFF have been working to ensure that public car parks owned by EDDC are effectively managed and providing a valuable service whilst paying for themselves.

Mindful of the sanitary situation and how best to protect car park users and council staff, East Devon council is keen to offer contactless solutions for paying parking charges to anybody who wishes not to touch the machines.

The TAFF suggested trialling these entirely contactless in some car parks with several machines, reducing or removing the need to touch buttons or screens when paying for parking.

Paying for parking remotely from a mobile phone for example also removes the need to queue at machines and allows users to top up and extend their parking time from the beach or restaurant without having to return to their vehicle.

Contactless card payment can be faster than paying in coins also- a benefit in busy car parks.

TAFF will also be reconsidering the signage at car parks, and fitting more prominent and clearly worded signs to advise residents of the lower cost options available to them such as annual permits.