Basildon e-scooter trial extended

E-scooters will continue to be used in Basildon until at least November, councillors have agreed.

Basildon Borough Council voted to extend a Department for Transport and Essex County Council-led trial despite concerns over the usage of e-scooters by underage children, safety and enforcement.

Officials at a meeting last night (March 15) revealed hundreds of people across the county have been banned from using the scooters.

The Department for Transport hopes the scooters will provide a net zero alternative to cars, but because they are classified as motor vehicles users have to have a valid provisional or full drivers licence to use them and must be over 18.

Spin, the operating company and a subsidiary of Ford cars, says people have to scan their licence before using the scooters, allowing them to be banned if they engage in misuse.

The location of the scooters is also tracked so the company can tell if people are illegally using them in no-ride zones or on public footpaths.

Steve Pyer, Spin’s UK and Ireland country manager, told the meeting last night that users also have to pass an online safety test when they sign up.

He said: “In areas like Pitsea for example we’ve put bigger no-ride zones, so you just can’t use the scheme there.

“Which is a shame because some people really want to use them, but if that’s the control we have to put in, that’s the control we have to put in.”

He later said: “Across Essex we’ve banned 300 licences since we launched and that’s with about 800,000 journeys, probably about 50,000 people that were signed up, so 300 banned completely.”

Councillor Alex Harrison (Labour, Lee Chapel North) said: “I live relatively near a school so I do see, every day, children using them.

“I see most days two, sometimes three people per scooter and walking around Basildon I see them on the paths far more often than I see them on the roads, so we know that they are being misused far more often than not.”

Councillor Kevin Blake (Con, Burstead) said more would get caught if there were better ways for members of the public to report them to the company, the police, or the council.

He said: “I’m sure there’s a lot more but nobody knows who to report it to.”

According to a council report, there are 220 Spin e-scooters over 53 locations in Basildon as part of the trial.

Police can give out fines and licence points to people using the scooters illegally, and even jail time in extreme cases.

It is illegal to use private scooters in Basildon, except on private land. Otherwise Spin scooters are the only ones currently allowed in the borough.

According to a council report, the Department for Transport proposed the trial in spring 2020 and Essex County Council, along with Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Tendring, Chelmsford and Colchester, were granted legal dispensation to operate the scheme.

The scheme in Basildon has already been extended once before.

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter