Published: 11:03, 17 September 2021
| Updated: 16:13, 17 September 2021
A controversial electric scooter scheme has been massively scaled back after a number of the vehicles were damaged.
Canterbury’s trial - launched by Kent County Council and headed up by e scooter rental firm Bird - began last year.
It is one of 31 such pilots being held across the UK as part of a Department for Transport project.
But the scooters have caused controversy among Canterbury residents, with some praising their environmental credentials, while others have raised concerns they are too fast and often dumped across the city.
Earlier this month, photos emerged showing the vehicles strewn haphazardly across the pavement in Station Road West.
And in July, police launched an investigation after several scooters were vandalised with an angle grinder.
A new report has now revealed the scooter fleet has been halved from 200 to 100, after several were damaged.
The report by Kent County Council’s director of highways and transportation, Simon Jones, reveals the scheme has also been scaled back to run on just a few select routes.
Phase three of the scheme was launched in June, and saw the trial zone expanded from covering the city centre area to encompassing peripheral areas such as Thanington, Hales Place, Wincheap and Harbledown.
But Mr Jones writes: “Phase three of the Canterbury e-scooter trial has temporarily been paused to allow for an ongoing police investigation.
“We have also reduced the fleet size from 200 to 100 scooters and reduced the operational area of the trial to phase one and two only.
“This is due to criminal damage of the e scooter fleet.
“While the investigation takes place, the trial is only operational at the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University along a route connecting the two, Canterbury East and West Rail Stations and Canterbury City Centre.
“We hope to be operating at full capacity again soon.”
Last August, The Independent reported that the UK's first e scooter trial in Middlesborough was too scaled back - on that occasion as a result of "widespread misuse".
KCC has held two public consultations into the Canterbury e scooter scheme.
Mr Jones says 109 responses were collected in the first consultation, while more than 320 have been collected in response to the second.
The report - due to be considered by the city council’s Joint Transportation Board on Tuesday - also reveals operator Bird has received a total of 72 complaints about the scheme.
Bird has been approached for a comment.
Read about our experience trying out one of the Bird e scooters in Canterbury here.