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Tourist asks, what’s the point?


POWER POINT Kevin Fitzgerald used power from the Clew Bay Hotel, where he was staying, to charge his electric car last week, after he discovered that the nearby ESB charging point had been out of order since July.

Frustration as Westport electric car charging point out of use for four months

Edwin McGreal

A visitor to Westport last week was left in shock when he tried to charge his electric car at a charging point in the James Street car park.
It wasn’t an electric shock though – the charging point was out of order.
Clare man Kevin Fitzgerald contacted the ESB and in a volt from the blue was told the charging points were out of order since last July, awaiting a new part.
“This is a regular problem. I went out of my way to buy an electric car, to do my bit. I contacted the ESB and the girl I spoke to was lovely but it appears there is little to no appetite to fix problems. They are waiting for a part at those charging points since July. That’s two parking spaces of no use since then,” he told The Mayo News.
Mr Fitzgerald, a regular visitor to Westport, bought his Nissan Leaf three months ago and while he normally goes with the flow, this is not the first time he has encountered problems with the network.
“I would often meet other electric car users and we would roll our eyes when we exchange stories of different issues we’ve had. When you rock up at a charging point you are taking a chance whether it will be working or not. All these issues are incredibly frustrating,” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald booked into the Clew Bay Hotel on James Street because there are two electric car charging points in close proximity to the hotel.
He did not have to stay static for long though and got some positive energy from the hotel – they cleared some space at the side of the hotel and Mr Fitzgerald was able to charge his Nissan Leaf off the hotel’s power.

But he says electric car users are growing increasingly frustrated and could blow their fuse.
“The last time I was in Westport there was a boy racer who had parked his car in a space at a charging point. I had to wait 30 minutes then for the car that was in the second space to finish charging. I rang the garda station and they were helpful but asked me to give them the registration number and they would ring him and ask him to move. Why not tow his car away and send a message out? It happens far too regularly that people just park in spaces at charging points,” he said.
He said it was time for the Government to take charge.
“It is ironic this happened at a time when the Government announced they are spending just €20 million on the network yet they are spending €3 billion on the broadband network. While Rome literally burns, they spend just €20 million. It is just a box ticking exercise for the government,” he said.
Darren Madden of the Clew Bay Hotel said they were ‘delighted to help’ but said it is time the Government switched onto the importance of the network of charging points.
“We are all being told to reduce our carbon footprint but it is very disappointing then when you learn how poorly equipped the network is.
“From a tourism point of view we need to look in Westport at what we can do to attract tourists with electric cars. If we don’t seek to expand the local network and ensure it is working correctly, we are missing out on potential tourists. Kevin chose us because we are located close to a charging point. It is hard to encourage people to buy electric cars when you hear stories like this,” he said.