This item has been accepted by the Chair as urgent business for the consideration of the Executive Committee, following consultation with the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This report needed to be considered as soon as possible by the Executive Committee as the Council needs to submit a bid to take part in the e-scooter trial before 31st August 2020 and there are no further meetings of the Executive Committee scheduled to take place before that date.
The Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager presented a report in respect of the potential for Redditch to take part in a national E-scooter trial. The subject of e-scooters was being investigated by the Government as part of a focus on sustainable transport.
Worcestershire County Council would provide some assistance to Redditch Borough Council in respect of the bid for Redditch but were not taking a lead on the project. Consequently, external advice had been sought by Officers. At this initial stage of the project the Council needed to determine how the trial could operate in Redditch in general terms. At a later stage, subject to the authority’s submission being successful, the Council would need to procure an external provider to deliver the trial in Redditch over a 12-month period. Redditch Borough Council would need to submit the bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) for approval and the department would determine whether Redditch would participate in the trial.
Officers were proposing that the e-scooter trial should take place in parts of Redditch town centre. Should the Council’s bid be successful there would be approximately 100 e-scooters during the trial. The Council would need to address certain requirements in respect of traffic regulations prior to the launch of a trial. The external provider of the service would be responsible for maintaining the e-scooters and would need to obtain a license to operate. Should the trial be launched and be successful, the Council could consider extending the service to other parts of the Borough.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) would also be submitting a bid to participate in the trial. There was the possibility that, if Redditch Borough Council’s bid was unsuccessful, Redditch might be selected by the WMCA if the combined authority was successful, as a location for the trial.
After the presentation of the report Members discussed the following points in detail:
· The benefits of encouraging residents to use sustainable methods of transport, both in terms of the climate change implications and for people’s physical health.
· The potential implications of an e-scooter trial for people with physical disabilities, particularly residents who were blind or partially sighted. The Committee was informed that the e-scooters emitted a noise and were not permitted to travel on footpaths, which would help to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
· The recent press coverage in respect of e-scooters and sustainable transport in Redditch.
· The amount of revenue that the Council could expect to generate from the service. Officers explained that it would be difficult to predict potential revenue prior to the trial taking place There had only been one e-scooter trial to date in north England so there was not sufficient data available nationally to enable an estimate to be provided at this stage. Data would only begin to emerge once a trial had been launched.
· The role of Worcestershire County Council in respect of the transport infrastructure in the county and the need for partnership working in respect of the Active Travel agenda for Worcestershire.
· The highways infrastructure in Redditch and the benefits of a new town layout for sustainable transport trials.
· The speed limit for e-scooters, at 15.5 miles per hour. Officers confirmed that e-scooters would only be permitted to travel on roads where there was a 30 miles per hour speed limit.
1) Officers be authorised to submit a bid for an e-scooter trial to the Department for Transport on or around the 31st August 2020; and
2) subject to the Council’s bid to take part in the e-scooter trial being successful, authority be delegated to the Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services and the Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services to complete all related legal and administrative documentation.
(This report had been accepted as a matter of Urgent Business – not on the Executive Committee Work Programme and not having met the publication deadline – and was considered at the meeting as such, with the approval of the Chair and the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in accordance with the Council’s constitutional rules and the powers vested in the Chair by virtue of Section 100 (B) (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972 to agree to matters of urgency being discussed by reason of special circumstances.
In this case the special circumstances were that the Council needed to submit a bid to the Government for consideration as a location for an e-scooter trial by 31st August 2020. As there were no further meetings of the Executive Committee scheduled to take place prior to that date the Chair had agreed that the item could be discussed by the Committee as a matter of urgency.)