E-scooters will soon be dotted around Kettering

The e-scooters in Northampton.The e-scooters in Northampton.
The e-scooters in Northampton.
The scheme will launch in the north of the county later this year

An e-scooter trial which has faced heavy criticism since it started in Northampton will soon be launching in Kettering.

Currently 300 of Swedish company Voi's scooters are dotted around the county town for people to use instead of a car or bus in a bid to help them reduce their carbon footprint.

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Northamptonshire County Council will be working closely with Kettering Council to launch a scheme there later in 2020 and a date is not yet confirmed.

But members of the public and councillors have raised concerns about dangers to pedestrians - and misusing the scooters has already landed one Northampton teenager in court.

A Northampton shopper was also hit by a brake light cap when a youngster pulled a wheelie on a scooter, which is limited to speeds of 15.5mph. A Far Cotton pub landlady woke up to find a scooter 'parked' on top of railings outside.

Northampton councillor James Hill tweeted said: "I love the idea of @voitechnology scooters in principle but after two days issues are already happening. Riding on pavements, under 18s using them - to name a few. A real shame that @mycountycouncil did no consultation with @NorthamptonBC or @NorthantsPolice before installing them."

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Users have to have a provisional driving licence. Rules for riding the scooters also include an age restriction of over 18, one person per scooter and no riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The vehicles must then be parked in public areas where the next users can locate the scooter using the Voi app. There are designated places, detailed on the app, where Voi prefers them to be parked which is incentivised with offers of discounted rides if users park the scooter in the designated area.

The scooters are paid for by-the-minute via the app.

Dez Dell, from the Kettering Green Party, said: "We welcome the announcement of e-scooters in Kettering - it’s exciting to have our town chosen for this trial.

"However, we have heard about the teething problems experienced in Northampton and hope they will be ironed out before the Kettering launch.

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"As long as people stick to the hire rules and use them safely on the roads and cycle paths then they should become an asset. It may even highlight the dire state of our town's cycle paths, which need improving to the new Government standards.

"Used properly these e-scooters could transform our town. If we use them for short journeys instead of jumping in the cars, it will make a huge difference to congestion and air quality."

Emily Fedorowycz, who volunteers for Bettering Kettering, said: "Whilst many may have some scepticism around e-scooters, they certainly offer something exciting and innovative for our town.

"This sustainable method of transport aims to reduce our county’s carbon footprint by 400 tonnes, an amazing target. This could help ease congestion and save people money, given that they are much cheaper than owning, running and insuring a car.

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"Local businesses could also really benefit from the scooters as they could be a great incentive to draw more people into the town centre and to their shops.

"If we can encourage scooters to be used safely and responsibly, these devices can be a really positive force in our town. It would be helpful if the council and locals could widely share VOI’s training resource, RideLikeVoila, where users can learn more about road safety and earn free rides. I look forward to my first ride on the e-scooter into Kettering town centre."

Northampton and Kettering were selected by the Government for the trial alongside Milton Keynes, areas of the Tees Valley and parts of the West Midlands.

When the scheme was launched Jason Smithers, highways and place cabinet member for Northamptonshire County Council, said: “It gives people another option to get around town and we’re really excited about it.

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“People want to make a difference and they can by getting on one of these rather than a bus and helping to reduce carbon footprint.

“The scooters are win win for the environment and for people."

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