THREE electric vehicle charge points have been installed in Worcestershire by the county council as part of a £600,000 project.

The new charging stations at county hall in Worcester, Webbs garden centre in Wychbold and Evesham Leisure Centre are designed to encourage more people to switch to the environmentally-friendly vehicles.

Nine further points are planned for the county, after Worcestershire County Council landed a £450,000 windfall from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and £150,000 from Chargemaster, the contractor appointed to set up the points.

Ruth Corrall, sustainable communities project manager at the county council, said: "Electric vehicles are now a viable solution for many people, with an increasing number of cars available on the market from leading manufacturers.

“They are a great choice for people who want to reduce their impact on air pollution, reduce their CO2 emissions and save money."

Councillor Anthony Blagg, cabinet member for the environment, added: "Electric vehicles cause less pollution and, as well as being kinder to the environment, are more economical to run.

"Through this project the county council is doing its bit to encourage the owners of these vehicles to come into the county by providing them with facilities for charging.

“At the same time, by installing more charge points we are helping to boost the national network and hopefully motorists will become more confident about owning an electric vehicle."

The rapid charge points, which cost £5.50 for 45 minutes on a pay-as-you-go basis, will be able to power up the vast majority of vehicles, some in just 20 to 30 minutes, according to the local authority.

But one electric car user has lambasted the council’s approach as a “waste of money” and “completely bonkers”.

Sam East, who lives near Stratford-upon-Avon but regularly travels through Worcestershire with his business, drives a Renault Zoe electric car and has voiced a number of technical grievances with the Worcestershire project.

He said: “I am livid about it because we are desperate for these rapids in a good location at a reasonable cost

“This public money has been absolutely wasted and the charge points are not going to be used.

“It is crazy and I hope that next time the money will be used properly.”

His grievances include the inaccessibility of the charge point at Webbs outside of the garden centre’s opening hours and the “expensive” £5.50 fee which is significantly higher than the 88p it costs him for a full charge at home.

He has also labelled the 45-minute charging period, which does not sync with the half an hour window required to power most batteries to 80 per cent, as a “completely bonkers” strategy that will lead to queues at the points.

With 50 per cent of electric vehicle motorists in the UK driving the hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander, which has a 20-mile battery pack, he claims the council’s pricing structure will mean the charge points are used far less because they aren’t cost-effective for such owners.

Worcestershire County Council however has strongly defended its approach.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “The tariff has been set to try and ensure that the costs of running the charge point are covered. The tariff is £5.50 for 45 minutes and then 15p per minute subsequently.

“If necessary, we will review the tariff after an initial three-month period. However we are still early days in the market and have based our tariff on the experiences from a number of other councils, who have opted for the same charging structure.

“The 45-minute charging period allows for the trickle charge to be obtained after the battery reaches 80 per cent charge. This will allow most cars to take a full charge, which many drivers who are using the charge point as part of a long journey, will need.”

He added that the charge point at Webbs garden centre in Wychbold is open at 7.15am each morning until 8.30pm on Monday to Friday, to 6.30pm on Saturdays and 5.30pm on Sundays, while a new, nearby charge point at Chateau Impney will be accessible 24/7.

The further nine charge points planned for the county will be based Weaver's Wharf retail park in Kidderminster, St Martin's Gate car park in Worcester, Greenlands Business Centre and Abbey Stadium in Redditch, and Chateau Impney hotel near Droitwich, while two will be based at each of Crowngate shopping centre in Worcester and Evesham Country Park.