ELECTRIC charging points installed in Silsden and at Airedale Hospital will provide free power for taxis.

Hackney carriage and private hire drivers will be able to fuel-up for free until October 2021 at the machines in car parks at the hospital and in Skipton Road.

The charging points, provided by Bradford Council, can also be used to fuel electric vehicles owned by members of the public.

There is one charging point in each car park, with two adjoining car parking spaces, one for the public and one for taxis. The cables from the charging point can be used by vehicles in either parking bay.

The installation was accompanied by an announcement of grants of up to £5,000 to help taxi drivers and operators with the cost of switching to electric or hybrid ‘plug-in’ vehicles.

Concern over the installation of the charging points was this week raised by Craven ward councillor Adrian Naylor.

He said: “The council is putting these charging points in to encourage people to use them, but at the moment I don’t think any taxi companies are planning to commit to electricity.

“It will require a voluntary change by the taxi drivers. The council is taking badly-needed parking spaces both in Silsden and at Airedale Hospital for the charging points.”

Councillor Naylor said that instead, the council should force all local taxi drivers to convert to electricity vehicles within five years.

He added: “Other cities are forcing buses and taxi companies to move to this. They have welcomed the clarity of the policy and they know they have five years in which to do it.”

The council this week told the Keighley News it was installing 20 rapid chargers across the district offering free use to taxi drivers. The chargers at Silsden and Airedale Hospital are not yet operational.

The council said chargers were being installed in areas where taxi drivers lived and operated, following extensive consultation amongst hundreds of drivers to discover which ones were planning to convert to plug-in vehicles.

News of the taxi charging points coincided with a discussion this week by Bradford Council’s Executive over plans to charge taxis, buses and goods vehicles for entering Bradford city centre from October 2021 if their vehicles do comply with clean-air regulations.

The policy will be accompanied by several schemes to help taxi drivers comply: a £3,700 to upgrade existing vehicles; up to £5,000 to buy electric taxis including free fuel for two years after October 2021; and a ‘try before you buy’ electric taxi scheme.

The Executive was discussing plans to improve air quality and the health of local people. Measures in addition to the Clean Air Zone could be considered following public consultation, which runs until March 26.

Steeton and Silsden Taxis, whose office is just yards from the Silsden charging point, has been approached for a comment.