Renewed calls to scrap Voi trials in Northampton, Kettering Corby and Wellingborough after Transport Minister confirms two deaths linked to e-scooters

Grant Shapps reveals two fatalities during UK rental schemes – BOTH in county

Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 4:14 pm

A minister has revealed the UK’s only two deaths linked to e-scooter trials both happened in Northamptonshire.

Grant Shapps told the Commons Transport Select Committee in April that there had been no fatalities connected with rental schemes anywhere in the UK.

But in a later letter to committee chair, Huw Merriman, on May 13, the transport secretary corrected his statement: "Out of the over one-and-a-half million active participants in the trials and the 24.8 million miles covered, there have been two deaths, both in the Northamptonshire trial.

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“The first, in October 2020, was recorded by the coroner as an accidental death. The second was in December 2021, but the inquest is yet to take place."

Mr Shapps’ admission has led to more calls for trials to be halted amid claims “they are not safe for riders or for pedestrians”.

The Department of Transport did not return multiple requests for clarification of Mr Shapps' correction, while a spokesman for rental firm Voi said the company would not comment while a police investigation is ongoing.

Northamptonshire Police is expected to issue a statement later this week.

Philip Jones, 75, died in 2020 after trying to move a discarded Voi machine blocking his mobility scooter's path in Northampton

An inquest in Northampton last year heard 75-year-old Philip Jones died after attempting to move an abandoned Voi e-scooter from the path of his mobility vehicle in Kingsthorpe on October 17, 2020.

Coronor Anne Pember ruled Mr Jones’ death was an accident although his brother, Dennis, told the inquest it was “completely avoidable”.

He added: “If he didn’t have to get off to move the Voi scooter I believe he would still be here today.”

Voi e-scooter trials began in Northampton in September 2020 and were extended to Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Rushden in early 2021, despite objections on safety grounds.

The National Federation of the Blind has voiced concerns over problems with machines being dumped on footpaths after being used and says it is aware of 17 deaths linked to e-scooters nationally since 2019.

Spokesperson Sarah Gayton said: “Grant Shapps needs to immediately take action shut down the trials and do an immediate U-turn on his policy to legalise private e-scooters.

“These are not safe machines at all and it is very clear they are not safe for riders or for pedestrians.

"We just need to get them off the streets. The shops need to be stopped selling them to stop the situation getting any worse and the police need to do more to remove them from the streets.”

Voi trials are due to be reviewed again in November while privately-owned machines are illegal in public places as they cannot be insured.

A council statement said: “Safety is paramount for the Voi scooter trial and we continue to work closely with the police and Voi to ensure safety for both scooter users and other members of the public.

“In addition, Voi organises regular online and in-person safety events with incentives for users to attend.

“All Voi e-scooters are regularly maintained and undergo a comprehensive safety control check.

“Scooter hire also has a mandatory feature where a photo of the scooter needs to be submitted after a ride has been completed to ensure it has been parked appropriately. Failure to do so results in a warning and ultimately a fine.”

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