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Council ‘can’t charge’ new £8m electric-powered bin wagons

York Council has been accused of failing to build facilities to charge the vehicles in time.

Whistleblower photos show the brand new electronic vehicles in a tarmacked storage yard. (SWNS)
Whistleblower photos show the brand new electronic vehicles in a tarmacked storage yard. (SWNS)

A council has been accused of hiding a fleet of 25 new multi-million-pound electric-powered bin wagons because it failed to build facilities to charge them.

York Council has invested around £8m into a procurement project to replace its diesel trucks, used for general litter collection, with more eco-friendly vehicles.

But independent councillor Mark Warters, 58, has labelled the project “farcical” and an “embarrassment” after it was revealed delays with charging infrastructure meant some couldn’t be used.

Photos taken by a whistleblower showed the brand-new trucks sitting idle in a tarmacked storage yard.

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York Council has invested £8m into buying and maintaining the vehicles. (SWNS)
York Council has invested £8m into buying and maintaining the vehicles. (SWNS)

A council spokesperson admitted construction of the charging points was "behind schedule" but claimed it was better to purchase the vehicles early due to inflation.

Cllr Warters said: “There are 25 vehicles out of what’s arrived that haven’t been used yet and are just hidden away because they’re an embarrassment.

"Basically, they’ve got nowhere to charge them.

"They’re behind with installing the charging infrastructure… but because they’d already procured the electric vehicles, they’re obviously having to accept them.”

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Cllr Warters questioned how the project would work in practice, saying council staff would need to keep vehicles at home overnight, where they can't be charged.

He added: “The wider side of this is, even when they get the charging infrastructure in place, how you actually manage a fleet of vehicles when there are a lot of council workers that will start at ridiculous hours, 5am or 5.30am in the morning?”

“It’s always been accepted practice that those people take these vehicles home with them. So they’re already questioning how that system would work.”

Councillor Mark Warters labelled the project “farcical”. (SWNS)
Councillor Mark Warters labelled the project 'farcical'. (SWNS)

A spokesperson for York Council, which is led by Liberal Democrat Keith Aspden, said work was behind schedule due to a power outage and the need to find existing cables at a depot which were not inducting.

“Our ambitious EV strategy has delivered 39 new electric vehicles to the council including the two electric waste vehicles,” they told local paper York Mix.

“Thirteen of these are in operational use by the services, 15 are in the yard in the process of being deployed and 15 are at Harewood Whin awaiting deployment.

“Those that are being used are being charged either at the depot or at Hyperhubs and public charging points. There are more chargers to go into the depot and this work is under way."

The spokesperson added there was no charge for storing the vehicles at Harewood Whin, as the council had agreed on a deal with waste management company Yorwaste.

It’s understood that the council spent around £6.5m of their procurement budget on new vehicles, whilst the other £1.5m covered the creation of new charging stations.

City of York Council have been contacted for further comment.