Call for clamp down on Southwold mobility scooters
PUBLISHED: 11:04 11 May 2012
THEY are a vital mode of transport for hundreds of disabled people.
But Southwold Town Council is calling on the government to regulate the use of mobility scooters, amid claims they are causing a safety hazard by “hurtling along the pavement”.
The council has written to Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, encouraging her to debate the issue in parliament after complaints that many are driven too fast on the pavements or cause traffic congestion on roads.
At a recent town council meeting, the mayor of Southwold John Windell questioned whether the police had powers to manage their use. He said: “There have been a few complaints recently to me about mobility scooters hurtling along the pavement. Is there any way the police can manage these scooters?”
Speaking to The Journal yesterday, Mr Windell added: “We are going to get in touch with our MP about this issue. The more I have spoken to people about it the more I have come to realise that this is a national problem.
“It seems to be a grey area when it comes to regulating the use of buggies on the paths and roads. As a pedestrian you are sometimes limited to where you can walk but these buggies can go anywhere.
“To buy a new buggy you have to prove you have been to a doctor, but a lot of people are buying them second hand even if they do not have a need for one.
“We need a national debate about buggies in Westminster, they need to check up on this problem. I am worried they are going to look into this issue when it is too late.”
The Department for Transport estimates there are 250,000 to 300,000 buggies in the UK– four times the total five years ago. At present, it is illegal to drive a buggy if you are not registered disabled.
Sgt Nigel Tompsett, of Southwold police, said: “When it comes to these scooters it is quite difficult. They have become an increasing problem that needs to be challenged at some stage.
“The faster scooters are the real concern, but there is no requirement for them to drive just on the pavement or the road.
“When it comes to liability they follow the same rules as a pedal cycle. It is down to the individual’s responsibility.”
The issue has also prompted concerns elsewhere in the UK, after several accidents involving the scooters.
But Steve Perry, marketing manager for Electric Mobility Euro which sells a range of the vehicles, said: “Mobility scooters have revolutionised the life of many elderly and disabled people offering freedom and independence.
“The controls are simple to operate and, when used with consideration for other pavement users, can improve quality of life which otherwise may have meant a person staying at home in isolation.”
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