Motorists can start using a new electric vehicle (EV) charging hub in the heart of Bicester from tomorrow.

The site at the Cattle Market car park is the first of 24 council-owned car parks to have an EV charging hub installed this year.

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It comes as part of the £5.2 million Park and Charge Oxfordshire programme which is among the first of its kind in the UK and is being delivered by a consortium of local partners including Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council.

Llewelyn Morgan, head of innovation at Oxfordshire County Council’s iHub, said: “Interest in electric vehicle ownership is increasing in the county, but one factor holding people back is the inability to easily charge them outside their home, with about 35 per cent of residents having no access to off-street parking.

“Park and Charge Oxfordshire offers an alternative solution by allowing residents to park for free overnight in council-owned car parks, while giving access to top of the range electric charging points.”

Motorists can park for free overnight and charge-up using one of the 12 new ‘fast’ 7-22kw EV charging points, which will also provide much-needed battery top-ups to commuters and visitors during the daytime.

Councillor Dan Sames, Cherwell District Council’s lead member for clean and green, said: “Bicester is the ideal place to pilot the Park and Charge Oxfordshire scheme. As a garden town, it is home to a number of innovative green tech companies developing cutting edge, sustainable solutions to the climate emergency.

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“It is only by working together, with businesses and residents, that we will be able to hit our ambitious goal of being zero carbon as a district by 2030. Creating a good electrical charging infrastructure is an essential part of that strategy.”

Supporting the creation of green infrastructure, using low-carbon, energy positive technology is a core principle of the Bicester Garden Town project, with Bicester firm Zeta developing a state of the art charger for the scheme.

Zeta is leading the Park and Charge project and will also be running the EV charging service on behalf of the councils under the trading name EZ-Charge. The chargers can be operated by contactless payment.

EZ-Charge CEO, Phil Shadbolt, OBE, said: “We are really proud and excited to see our innovative EV chargers finally go live to the public this week – having designed and manufactured them in our Bicester factory, it’s a big moment for us.”

By 2025, around 25,000 battery electric vehicles will be driven on Oxfordshire’s roads.

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To meet with this demand, a further 23 car parks have been selected for the project across Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and the Vale of the White Horse.

These will be rolled out later this year.