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West Sussex County Council
Case study

West Sussex Chargepoint Network

West Sussex County Council adopted its Electric Vehicle Strategy in December 2019 to deliver a countywide public EV chargepoint network.


West Sussex County Council partnered with six of the district and borough authorities within the county and signed a contract with Connected Kerb in November 2021 to deliver the West Sussex Chargepoint Network.  

Energy Saving Trust began supporting West Sussex County Council in 2018, particularly around  strategy development, and remained involved throughout as impartial subject matter experts.

Electric vehicle strategy

In December 2019, WSCC approved an EV Strategy with three key aims:

  • 70% of all new cars in the county to be electric by 2030.
  • Sufficient charging infrastructure in place to support vehicles that are reliant on public infrastructure chargepoints.
  • Ensure a renewable energy source for all chargepoints.

The strategy also committed the county council to enabling charging infrastructure to be installed on land and on public highways for public use, and to engage with partners to ensure a charging network that uses public and community land.

The strategy took a cautious approach in investing limited funds, and it set out that WSCC would seek a market-based supplier to deliver the strategy.

Key requirements

Portfolio approach

To ensure that not only profitable sites come forward, but also sites where individuals and communities need chargepoints but where they are less commercially viable (likely to be more rural communities), the council required a that ‘portfolio approach’ be taken to delivering the  countywide network.

This solution requires the revenue from more commercially viable sites to support the delivery of less commercially viable, but socially critical sites, across the county, with transparency concerning financing and profit to ensure oversight that this was being delivered.

Partnership approach

The EV Strategy committed the county council to enabling a charging network that uses public and community land. Partners were key to this. It chose to focus the initial partnership building with the higher tier authorities and approached all of the district and borough councils within the county to see if they would be interested in moving forward together.

Six of the seven districts and boroughs – Adur, Arun, Crawley, Horsham, Mid Sussex and Worthing – joined the partnership.

The contract was structured so that in addition to WSCC and the partner authorities, other organisations can access the framework, including parish and town councils, social housing providers, community groups, faith groups, village halls, schools and non-for-profit community landowners and public entities.

Funding and revenue share

The partner organisations intend to maximise the available government funding; currently the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS). Once chargepoints are installed, Connected Kerb will take responsibility for ongoing servicing and maintenance of all charging infrastructure.

The contract includes provision for partners to receive a revenue share based on the kilowatts used. This will be distributed in proportion to the number of chargepoint sockets on each landowner’s property, regardless of the performance of the chargepoint on an individual landowner’s property.

The tender does not specify an exact number of chargepoints to be delivered. It only requires that the network delivered by the successful bidder meets the need of residents.

Network planning

WSCC considered going to market with a fully developed network plan, but decided against it for several reasons:

  • Producing a detailed plan for the county, factoring in all community and highway land, would have been a significant and resource intensive exercise, when resources were not available.
  • Suppliers said that they run their own analysis and test site feasibility, effectively repeating the work.
  • Through supplier engagement it became clear that different operators viewed and assessed attractive and commercial sites very differently, and WSCC was very keen to protect its portfolio approach principle.

It was specified that the supplier would use their market expertise and work with local authority partners to develop a network plan that meets their commercial requirements, but also reflects the community need and portfolio approach that is integral to success. This also meant that no ORCS money was secured in advance of procurement.

Procurement process

WSCC took two attempts to secure a supplier. The first tender had to be abandoned post-contract award due to the supplier requesting significant changes to the specification and financial make-up of the service, which fundamentally differed from the published tender. The council decided to start the procurement process again.

Type of contract

With no upfront financial investment available either from partners or government funding, a concession contract was the only option available.

Supplier engagement

Formal supplier engagement occurred before each tender process. In addition, specific feedback was sought from suppliers who had been expected to bid but had not.

Supplier engagement was useful to test and refine approaches but should also be considered as a snapshot in time. WSCC would advise being direct when engaging with suppliers and push the market for definitive answers to key questions, as well as check understanding of the issues being raised.

Framework or tender?

The partners initially chose to go to tender due to the following reasons:

  • In early 2019, only a few concession frameworks were available, with most approaching their end date or due for review.
  • The frameworks did not support the portfolio approach.
  • At the time frameworks required sites to be specified in advance.
  • Most of the suppliers that had responded and impressed the council during formal engagement were not named on the available framework contracts.

Contract length

In the initial tender process, the contract length was 10 years with an option to extend annually for a further five years. The second contract that has now been awarded is for 15 years with an opportunity to extend for 5 years.

The change reflected the main learning from supplier feedback, which was that minimum contract length will be used by the suppliers to assess the level of risk they are being asked to accept.

Key actions

WSCC took on the role of lead authority, which covered most of the work in preparing the specification and procurement documentation. However, all partners made significant contributions to this process.

Fortnightly project meetings with all partners gave space for discussion and agreement on all elements of the specification and contract, as well as open and transparent sharing of information. These meetings developed trust and built support for the project.

Partners dedicated significant resource to the project, enabling the lead officer to attend the regular meetings. Critical to success was involving key stakeholders from across the business.

Last updated: 29 March 2022