Decision details

Urgent Decision - E-Scooter Trial

Decision Maker: Chief Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

REQUESTED DECISION: To agree to waive the contract procedure rules and to appoint Voi, for the purposes of running an e-scooter pilot in North Devon with NDC and Petroc, where no monetary incentive or grant forms part of this agreement with Voi. This agreement is for a pilot period only – lasting 12 months under the licence from Department for Transport (DfT).

STATEMENT OF THE REASONS FOR THE REQUEST AND WHY IT IS URGENT:
The urgency is to meet the DfT deadline to acquire a licence to run an e-scooter pilot in North Devon with a partnership between Petroc and an e-scooter supplier (Voi).

Petroc have been in discussion with local partners, including Devon County Council, NDC and TDC since early July around the potential for an e-scooter pilot for North Devon. All parties were broadly in agreement with the principle of a pilot – both addressing the ‘first/last mile’ issue faced by Petroc students, and the offer for visitors to North Devon who wish to find a more sustainable method of traveling around when on holiday in the area. Petroc made contact with a micro mobility provider, who had already successfully started pilots with other local authorities, mostly in city regions. The company, Voi, were keen to look at a pilot in a rural area. Through discussions with DfT, Petroc were made aware that this would be the first rural pilot in England, and the data collected from the pilot would be very welcomed by the DfT. Petroc therefore proceeded to submit an Expression of Interest, as per the process. The Dft welcomed the submission but at this point made it clear that they would only accept a full proposal from a local authority – as they were only granting licences through these bodies.

On September 9th, Petroc contacted NDC to seek our approval to submit a proposal on behalf of the emerging partnership they had formed with Voi. This was agreed by the Head of Place and at this point work was started on the proposal. It was clear after the first few meetings that the DfT required the proposal to have the micro mobility partner already procured, so their operating procedures could form part of the assessment process on submission to the DfT.

Guidance from DfT on procurement for proposals being submitted states:

Dialogue with several areas suggests that light-touch contractual arrangements may be suitable for many authorities and better able to rapidly deliver e-scooter trials in response to COVID-19. In some cases, however, areas may choose to undertake a more traditional procurement exercise with a more detailed contractual arrangement. This is entirely a local decision.

We did not have the appropriate time to carry out a contracting process, prior to submission, given the deadline of September 30th 2020.

Voi have provided a lot of detail around the safety and risk mitigation to run a successful e-scooter pilot, bringing with them a fair bit of experience from working within other local authority areas across England. There is no financial gain for them in the running of the pilot – they will not make a profit, but will build up experience of working in a rural setting, something they have not yet done. Voi will provide all of the capital equipment – scooters, spare parts, storage units, safety equipment so will invest a lot during the life of the pilot.

Once the 12 month pilot period concludes, Voi will remove all of the infrastructure they have in the area. If proof of concept is successful partners will discuss with DfT a longer term solution to e-scooter use in the area.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS: (NOTE: Please state if there are any financial implications. If so, state whether there are sufficient funds within the agreed budget. If there are insufficient funds please state how the decision will be financed).

There are no financial implications for NDC taking the lead role in this E-scooter trial. All capital equipment needed will be provided by the supplier (Voi) at no cost to the public purse. The proposal to the DfT is for a licence to run e-scooters in the district – it doesn’t cost the authority any money to obtain this.


Decision:

Approved

CHIEF EXECUTIVE’S COMMENTS:
Approve the decision. There is still a lot of work to be done on the project but I’m happy to act as the applicant to the bid and to appoint Voi in order to move the project forward.

Alternative options considered:

• Tendering Process under the Councils Contract Procedure Rules, given the turnover value to the supplier would exceed £40,000 for the 12 month pilot a tendering process would be required. The timescales for undertaking this would make a bid submission to the DfT invalid with the deadline for submission of September 30th. This option was therefore rejected.
• Working with Petroc under a joint working agreement where they take on the procurement of the supplier acting as our agent. However, this was not seen as a compliant method under the terms of the licence from the DfT, where the local authority is the preferred contractor with the e-scooter supplier. Therefore this option was also discounted.

Publication date: 09/11/2020

Date of decision: 30/09/2020