AN OPPOSITION councillor has criticised what he describes as a lack of engagement with the public over the climate emergency as The Gazette can reveal plans to introduce on-street electric vehicle charging points is being discussed behind closed doors.

A secretive Members' Advisory Panel (MAP) is discussing Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's response to the climate emergency, with one of the ideas floated being an increased provision of electric vehicle (EV) charging points, including on-street.

They are currently working alongside Hampshire County Council to look at its feasibility.

But the leader of the opposition on BDBC, Cllr Andy McCormick, has said that BDBC is "not doing itself any favours" by holding these discussions out of the public's view.

He told The Gazette: "I am not happy that we are not getting the public engagement on this. It is holding people back.

"I am getting quite a few enquiries from residents. I can't give them an answer at the moment because we haven't committed."

Cllr McCormick added that he had heard of one residents who actually had to sell their EV because they could not charge it in Basingstoke.

"There are plenty of people in Basingstoke who want to make the switch but can't see how it is going to work for them locally," he continued.

"The council is not doing themselves any favours. It is frustrating.

"I really do want to get more involvement in the climate emergency."

BDBC said they are "proactively" engaging with HCC to look at suitable locations for the scheme, but said that no decisions have been made. A report to a committee in October said that proposals were the subject of a MAP, "to get an initial steer on the proposed direction of travel".

It comes after an attempt to make MAP meetings more accessible to the public in October failed. The opposition motion was voted down, mainly by the ruling Conservative administration. Cllr Onnalee Cubitt was the only Conservative councillor to vote for the motion.

Cllr McCormick added: "We put forward a motion to put an end to these secret meetings but it was voted down by the Conservatives on a whip.

"They want their failures to be kept from the public and I don't agree with that.

"This is the public's future and they should be involved in that decision."

He had previously said in a letter to the Gazette: "I shouldn’t have to report on decisions made behind closed doors, I would like much greater public involvement in this and the many other issues affecting Basingstoke, not least reviving the Town Centre, the ice rink, football club, aquadrome and introducing better Local Plan policies more suitable to the ecological and climate emergencies we now face.

BDBC’s cabinet member for the natural environment and climate improvement, Cllr Mark Ruffell, said in a statement: “The Climate Change MAP is not a decision making body. It is a way for us to discuss topics and explore ideas as a cross-party group. No decision on on-street electric vehicle charging has been made.

"Switching to electric vehicles, alongside more active and public transport is a vital way for us to cut emissions in the borough and reach net zero.

“We have a good track record of rolling out EV charging in public car parks and are working with Hampshire County Council to ensure that there is sufficient on-street EV charging infrastructure, to give residents and businesses the confidence to make the switch to electric vehicles.

“In addition we are working on a wider EV charging strategy which will set out of approach to EV charging in the future.”