Councillor 'filled with absolute fear' at e-scooter expansion

Great Yarmouth's e-scooter trial has been a hailed a success after nearly 10,000 people registered t

A proposed expansion of e-scooters in Great Yarmouth has sparked fears from councillors. - Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

A proposed expansion of e-scooters in Great Yarmouth has sparked fears from councillors over anti-social behaviour. 

Yarmouth is one of 32 areas across England participating in a trial, led by the Department of Transport (DfT), of rental e-scooters - while it remains illegal to ride privately-owned e-scooters on public roads. 

The expansion was discussed at a meeting of the council’s economic development committee, at which an officer said that Ginger, the company operating Yarmouth’s e-scooter fleet, had lodged a request to DfT to expand its current 100 scooters across the borough, to 450. 

DfT confirmed this week however that a request had in fact been lodged for an increase to 250, and the request was being considered. 

The officer said the whole fleet would not be active at the same time, because there would always be some receiving maintenance. 

According to Ginger, the trial in Yarmouth is outperforming all other areas they operate in - and the officer said people in Bradwell and Gorleston in particular had been asking for more scooters and bays. 

But Labour councillor and former MP Tony Wright said he was “filled with absolute fear” at the prospect of an increased fleet. 

Tony Wright speaking at the unveiling of a blue plaque to mark the 30th anniversary of Crimestoppers

Labour councillor Tony Wright, who served as the town's MP from 1997 to 2010. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

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“I’ve seen people riding them, legally, on the roads... and I think yes, great, that’s fine… but I think the number of infringements that I see, with [people misusing] Ginger [scooters] and with private ones as well, leads me to believe that if we were to extend this in this particular time, it’s going to create more problems than it's worth,” said Mr Wright. 

He added that increasing the fleet would be “changing the goalposts” of the trial. 

Labour colleague Colleen Walker said: “While I’m not anti-scooter, I am anti-social-behaviour.”

Norfolk county council Colleen Walker.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Labour councillor Colleen Walker - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

She said the vehicles were hazardous for partially-sighted people when “slung down” on the pavement, though the council officer pointed out that Ginger requires people to photograph the scooter parked properly - or they will continue to be charged. 

The officer also said 86pc of the borough's e-scooter journeys were now point-to-point, rather than circular “joy-rides”, which Conservative councillor Daniel Candon said was evidence of their “novelty” having worn off - though he too said he had concerns about the expansion. 

A DfT spokesman said safety was their top priority, and the trials were helping them to understand e-scooters' benefits and their public space impact.

Ginger was approached for comment.