Council defends extension of e-scooter trial in Canterbury despite safety concerns

  • Video report from ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw

Kent County Council has defended a decision to extend a controversial electric scooter hire scheme in Canterbury, despite opposition from the county's Police and Crime Commissioner.

The local authority insists the government-backed project is proving "very popular". But there have been reports of anti-social driving and abandoned vehicles clogging up the city's pavements. 

People in Canterbury can use e-scooters, but only if they are rented from a specific company as part of the trial scheme.

Watch: Cllr David Brazier says there is no evidence e-scooters are dangerous

According to Kent County Council, there are currently around 300 e-scooters available to hire in the city centre, with an average of 100 rented each day.

When asked about concerns over the safety of e-scooters, Cllr David Brazier, the Cabinet Member for Transport at Kent County Council (Con), said: "There have been complaints about e-scooters in Canterbury but almost invariably when we have looked into them it has been established that they are scooters being used illegally [not the trial scooters]."

He added: "There is no evidence that they are dangerous. I think that since the scheme began, there have been seven reports of accidents, but we've reviewed them and they are all slight."

Concerns have been expressed over abandoned e-scooters in the city. Credit: ITV News Meridian

However Matthew Scott, the Police & Crime Commissioner, feels the authorised hire scheme causes confusion amongst the public over what is and isn't allowed.

In May 2021, he issued a statement calling for a review before trials are expanded further.  He said: “Inconsiderate riders are becoming a menace on our roads and pavements, ignoring the law and causing dangers for other road users. We urgently need decisive action now on their future, as we’re in danger of losing control of the issue and placing additional burdens on policing.

“Too many people are using them in places they shouldn’t and we need to stop them being bought for young people.

"There should be no more roll outs until work is done with retailers, manufacturers and the public to make sure they are safe and people understand the law.”

Officials in Kent say that if the scheme ever becomes permanent, the operating company will build better infrastructure to store the scooters. 

For now, the pilot project continues at pace, and has been extended until November.