THE first five electric vehicle charging points in council car parks in Blackburn and Darwen are now up and running.

The first 22 kilowatt AC sockets for public use are three on the Feilden Street Multi Storey car park and two on its Darwen market rooftop equivalent.

Further sites in Blackburn with Darwen borough are earmarked for their introduction in a second phase of the council's green transport drive.

There will be four chargers on Brown Street car park, Blackburn; two on Varley Street car park, Darwen; and two on Weir Street car park, Blackburn.

An unspecified number sockets are scheduled for the undercroft car park below Blackburn's proposed new Reel Cinema car park when it is completed on the former Waves site late next year.

It is estimated there are more than 100 electric cars already owned by motorists in the borough and another 1,000 in the surrounding area.

But Blackburn and Darwen so far have few public car park electric vehicle chargers.

The council is working with Swarco UK Limited to install the necessary equipment across the borough.

Parking charges will be waived for drivers while charging at Feilden Street until April after which a reduced fee will be introduced for charge point users. Darwen market rooftop is free,

Electric car owner Jeff Borradaile, leader of Blackburn People’s Choir which practices at Wesley Hall on Fielden Street, said: “I travel between Preston, Bolton and Morecambe and I come into Blackburn in the evening for choir practice and now I can charge my car here.

“It is really convenient, not just for practice but for going into town. It will really make a big difference to my life."

Cllr Phil Riley, borough highways boss, said: “This is a great development. It is high time we had these chargers,

"Electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming a more common sight on our roads and could play a big part in improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions in the future."

Cllr Derek Hardman, borough Conservative group regeneration spokesman said,: "This is good news but long overdue.

"The council is already running late with the second phase of the charging points introduction."

Lancashire County Council is installing 150 electric car-charging points over the next 12 months.

Fifty will be located in Burnley, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Pendle and Rossendale.