THE FIRST of 20 new electric charging points in the Bradford district has gone live in the city centre.

Located in the Vicar Lane car park, the chargepoint is part of West Yorkshire’s largest electric vehicle rapid-charging network.

It is the first of 88 being installed across the county - 20 of which will be in the Bradford area - as part of the £3 million-plus scheme to help improve the county’s air quality. New locations will be added every week until the network is completed later this year.

Each of the new sites, which are free to use until the end of October 2021, will have two bays. One will be exclusive for taxis and private hire vehicles and the second is for all other users.

The rapid chargepoints are suitable for all connections and can top-up your battery or give it a major charge in just minutes depending on your vehicle. The maximum stay in a bay is one hour.

Councillor Caroline Firth (Lab, Keighley East), Climate Emergency Lead for Bradford Council, said: "We're encouraging people across the district to make better choices and get people out of cars.

"We're trying to incentivise it for them. The chargepoints are particularly important for those who don't have their own driveways.

"There are many benefits - the climate emergency element is key and the air quality agenda as well."

She said Bradford Council would be expanding its network too and it wants to encourage businesses and individuals to install charging points. It is also looking at measures to increase low emission vehicles and is working with bus companies.

Mohammed Fayaz, who drives a Nissan Leaf for Girlington All Over taxis, said he loved using his electric vehicle.

He said: "It's easy to get around in it, easier than I thought.

"Passengers love it, it's very comfy and there's no noise. People don't believe it's all electric."

He said it was easy to find places to charge up through phone apps and said the Leaf's 120-mile range was "brilliant for local jobs". He saves about £20 a day on fuel costs and it is cheaper to maintain. Charging at home costs about 2p per mile.

"Other drivers ask me about it," he added. "They're the future."

People can register to use the network at where they can also locate their nearest West Yorkshire chargepoint and find updates on the opening of new chargepoints.

The scheme is a collaboration between West Yorkshire Combined Authority and its partner local authorities - Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield councils. Following its successful bid for £2 million funding from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), West Yorkshire Combined Authority appointed Leeds-based ENGIE to install, own and operate the new charging points.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the partnering local authorities are also providing a further £1.2 million of match funding for the scheme.

Cllr Manisha Kaushik, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “Around 500 diesel taxis and private hire cars are forecast to be converted to hybrid and pure electric vehicles as a result of us rolling out these chargepoints.

“Plus, the increased availability of rapid chargepoint locations will help counter ‘range anxiety’, which is currently discouraging people from switching to electric vehicles.

“Just recently West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership launched the Leeds City Region Climate Coalition as part of our commitment to tackle the global climate emergency. This scheme is an important step towards achieving our aims.”

Nicola Lovett, CEO of ENGIE UK and Ireland, said: “These chargepoints will play a key role in tackling air pollution and creating a greener, cleaner place for people who live and work in West Yorkshire.

“At ENGIE we work hard to improve the lives of people in cities and urban areas and we are delighted to launch this electric vehicle charging network in the region.

“Providing green mobility solutions is just one part of a wider strategy where we support local authorities and the public in helping shape their environment as we move towards a net-zero carbon world.

“There has been a real improvement in carbon reduction where we’ve implemented green initiatives in other cities and we are looking forward to seeing the West Yorkshire region benefit from this fantastic scheme.”

Cllr Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “As part of our Low Emissions Strategy, we want to encourage residents and businesses in Bradford to consider switching to electric vehicles, and one of the best ways to do this is to make it convenient and free for people to access chargepoints.

“We are determined to increase our commitment to reduce the Council’s carbon footprint while staying at the forefront of new ultra-low emission technology.

"Encouraging the use of electric cars helps us achieve both and we hope that the additional 20 charging points will make Bradford drivers think about making their next car an electric one.”