Northampton Voi e-scooter trial will be extended for another two years

The Voi e-scooter pilot was first launched in Northampton in 2020 and has been renewed by the council multiple times.
The Voi e-scooter pilot was first launched in Northampton in 2020 and has been renewed by the council multiple times. -Credit:West Northamptonshire Council

Northampton's controversial e-scooter trial will be extended for another two years, in line with new safety proposals and technology to monitor users more closely.

West Northamptonshire Council's (WNC) cabinet has endorsed the renewed scheme and says they will hold VOI to account to provide the safety improvements set out.

A review into the e-scooter programme began last year after Labour Cllr Emma Roberts raised concerns about the dangers of the trial and multiple incidents involving the scooters. Throughout the six-weeks spent scrutinising the programme, the group reviewed evidence and consultation responses from more than 2,600 people.

The task and finish group ultimately recommended the continuation of the scheme to WNC, impressing the need for a road map of improvements alongside it.

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Cllr Roberts previously spoke out about the review, saying she was "deeply disappointed" with the outcome and the "hurried" six-week time frame. She attended the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, May 7, to raise further concerns.

She told the council chamber: "I didn't support the recommendations in the report, I sat on the task and finish group and stating that this is thoroughly reviewed is not possible to say. My comments as a member of that task and finish group were, in my view, ignored.

"There are huge missed opportunities here and options where we could have really pushed Voi to deliver if they want to retain this contract. Just taking this report and Voi's word that they will make things better is not good enough for our residents."

Improvements to the e-scooters include:

  • Introducing new speed controls and restricted zones, based on a geofence areas review

  • Creating new 'no-parking' zones in critical locations

  • Rollout of using live photos to validate parking across the whole of Northampton

  • Looking into new technology to eliminate twin riding and pavement riding, however this has no timeframe

  • Rollout of updated scooters with additional reflective areas and higher visibility at nighttime in May and June

  • A review of the complaints procedure to improve communication and ensure timely action

A management team will monitor the performance of the trial and the willingness of Voi to build on these improvements. A termination clause in the contract will also allow WNC to terminate the trial with two months' notice, if necessary.

Cllr Phil Larratt, cabinet member for highways and travel, said: "Please don't think we are putting this to bed- it's still very much a live issue and is very much going to have member engagement.

"We still recognise the issues particularly around parking, double riding, riding on a footpath. Voi has agreed to take those forward and if they don't there's measures we can take, so don't think we're running away from that.

"We recognise the public's concern, but we also recognise that these e-scooters are very popular and play an important role in providing green travel and low-cost travel."

Monthly meetings between Voi, WNC and the police have also been put in place. Key performance indicators relating to the contract and e-scooter improvements will also be reviewed by the council each quarter.

When the e-scooter trial period ends in May 2026, a report will be presented to the cabinet to consider the pilot's overall success.