Surge in electric cars could lead to £1 million charge for Swanage

A rapid move towards electric cars could lead to a shocking £1 million charge for Swanage Town Council by 2030 – or the risk of losing thousands of tourists if nothing is done.

Swanage Town Council visitor services manager Culvin Milmer warned that by the end of the decade, almost a third of all cars on UK roads would be electric – but currently, the town has just six charging points in its car parks.


Swanage Town Council car parks currently have just six charging points

Tourists who use electric cars could go elsewhere

To provide a third of car park spaces with charging points could cost the town council around £1 million if it funded them itself, he told the Swanage Town Council environment committee on Wednesday 23rd November 2022.

But if the council chose to do nothing, tourists who used electric cars would be likely to find other holiday destinations where they could recharge their vehicles as they spent the day in the sun.

Lots of people on Swanage Beach in Carnival week

Swanage must cater for tourists who need to recharge their cars on holiday

Crucial that Swanage stays ahead of the curve

Culvin Milmer told the committee:

“Electric car owners will usually charge their vehicles at home but will look for holiday destinations that are within their battery radius – about 200 miles at the moment – or where easily accessible public charging points can be found at journey’s end.

“For a tourist economy like Swanage, especially as the town is at the end of a peninsula, it is crucial to remain ahead of the curve and provide enough charging points which are also powerful enough to keep its place as a premier visitor destination.

“In 2019, Swanage attracted 917,000 day visitors and 696,000 staying visitors with a total visitor spend of £73 million.

“But in 2021, 190,000 battery powered electric cars were sold in the UK, more than in the previous five years combined, and they are getting cheaper to buy and more efficient to run.”

Broad Road car park

Broad Road car park in Swanage has no charging point for electric cars

Every 10 per cent loss in visitor spend is £7.3m

Culvin Milmer added:

“By 2030, when sales of new petrol and diesel cars will end and all new cars produced in the UK will be electric, it is anticipated that 30 per cent or more of the cars on our roads will run on a battery.

“If Swanage is unable to support 30 per cent of the cars on the road, this could lead to a significant reduction in the tourist spend, where every 10 per cent loss in visitor spend equates to £7.3 million.”

At the moment, Swanage Town Council only has four charging points for electric vehicles in the Main Beach car park and two at Mermond Place, all of which deliver a 7 kilowatt an hour charge which can take eight hours or more to charge a family car.

Car aprk at Durlston Country Park

Durlston Country Park car park, owned by Dorset Council, has two charge points

First generation chargers becoming obsolete

As electric cars become more powerful, these first generation chargers are becoming obsolete with new chargers delivering 22 kilowatts an hour.

There are currently two of these at Swanage Coastal Park and two at Durlston Country Park.

Swanage Town Council provides 691 car parking spaces across five sites, and Culvin Milmer said that it should be assumed that the town would need at least 200 spaces converted to electric by 2030.


It is estimated that 30 percent of all cars on UK roads will be electric by 2030

“We urgently need to find a solution”

Culvin Milmer added:

“Eventually it can be assumed that as all cars become electric by 2040, all spaces will need to be electric; while it is possible that technology may change, the current direction of travel clearly shows a need to install a large number of charging points.

“If the town council continues with its current approach, it is likely to have a total of only around 20 to 30 spaces available for electric cars by 2030, only some of which may be 22 kilowatts.

“If we don’t invest in electric charging, we could lose 30 per cent of the cars that come here. We urgently need to find a solution that delivers a large number of charging points in town over the next ten years.”


Private sector firms Joju and Mer have partnered with Dorset Council

Funding may come from private sector

Councillors heard that Dorset Council is working with a private partner, Joju Charging, to provide and roll out electric charging points in car parks which are Dorset Council owned.

The cost of installing and managing the new charge points is coming from a mixture of sources, but more than three-quarters of the cost is met by Joju and its funding partners Mer.

Swanage councillors agreed to begin urgent talks with Dorset Council to draw up a list of options that the town has, and voted to delay installing any further charging points until they have a strategy in place.

It is believed that a report with all possible options will be drawn up by early 2023.

West Street car park in Corfe Castle

Dorset Council’s West Street car park in Corfe Castle will get second generation charge points

Plans for new chargers in Wareham and Corfe Castle

Dorset Council has already begun to increase the number of public charge points for electric vehicles in its own car parks, with the first new charging unit installed in Sherborne in late September 2022.

They have identified almost two dozen sites for a first wave of the latest chargers, including Streche Road and Bonnets Lane (East) car parks in Wareham, and West Street and Purbeck Park car parks in Corfe Castle as well as Durlston Country Park in Swanage.

The expansion to the existing charging network will see a combination of fast (22kW), rapid (50kW) and ultra-fast (150kW) charging units installed across Dorset, the latter allowing users to charge 100 miles in just ten minutes.

Once this phase of installations is complete, Dorset Council will have over 80 charging units in its sponsored network, helping to keep Dorset in the top 20 per cent of charge point numbers in the country.


Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment

A way to tackle Dorset’s carbon footprint

Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said:

“In rural counties like Dorset, car ownership is amongst the highest in the country.

“By increasing the provision of electric vehicle charging points, we hope to provide the essential infrastructure needed to encourage more car owners in Dorset to choose electric vehicles over petrol and diesel equivalents.

“Travel is one of the biggest contributors to our county’s carbon footprint, so, as part of our response to the climate and ecological emergency, it’s vital we make the changes needed to help tackle this.”

Further information

  • To view the locations of all of Purbeck’s charging points, visit the zap-map website:

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