THE Tees Valley Mayor has insisted e-scooters are a “clean and cost-effective alternative to other forms of public transport in a post-coronavirus world”, following concerns they were creating a nuisance and could undermine a concerted drive to increase active travel and develop green transport solutions.

Ben Houchen was speaking two weeks after a fleet of e-scooters were distributed across Middlesbrough and Hartlepool for anyone over the age of 18 to ride, alongside an e-scooter rental scheme to be launched in Darlington. The Tees Valley trial is the first in the UK after the government legalised riding rental e-scooters on cycle lanes.

Since of the launch of the scheme two teenagers have been stopped for riding 12mph maximum speed e-scooters on the A19 and Labour MP for Hartlepool Mike Hill has said many people felt the vehicles were “creating a nuisance”. He also claimed Cleveland Police had received “a lot of anti-social behaviour complaints related to them”.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council last week heard the short distances they would be used for meant e-scooters would not serve to reduce the number of car journeys, but would instead be used by people who would otherwise have cycled or walked.

The Conservative mayor said the e-scooter trial was working and was proving very popular.

He said: “At the moment this is a trial and there will always be hiccups, but there were more than 500 rides in Middlesbrough in the first week of the scheme alone, and this will soon be rolled out across the rest of the Tees Valley. The scooters are helping local people get around in a clean and cost-effective alternative to other forms of public transport in a post-coronavirus world. They also show that our region is committed to being a driving force in innovative technologies. We are leading the way for the rest of the UK to follow, and the Government clearly think we are in the best position to do this out of anyone having decided we should be the first across the country to pilot the scheme.

“E-scooters are another example of how we’re doing things differently in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool and how we’re positioning ourselves at the forefront of clean energy and developing the technologies of the future, which is crucial for my plan for good quality, high skilled local jobs for local workers.”