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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
Police back scooter ban
Michael Saddington's scooter
The motorised scooters can reach up to 20mph
Motorised scooters could be driven off the roads if new laws are introduced to class the runabouts as motor vehicles.

A High Court judge has expressed concern over the increasing use of the fashionable scooters on the roads and has suggested the public need protection from them.

They are like a child's scooter, very unstable

Inspector Mick Bennett, Cleveland Police

The police want the "big boys toys" banned and have tried to prosecute people using the scooters on public roads.

But a loophole in existing laws allows uncontrolled use and discrepancy in the courts.

Riders have been acquitted or convicted of the same offences depending on different magistrates.

Test case

The two-wheel scooters are motorised versions of the child's toy with 22.5cc two-stroke diesel engines.

They are capable of reaching speeds of up to 20mph.
Michael Saddington
Michael Saddington: Regrets taking his friend's Go-ped on the road

Lord Justice Pill, sitting at the High Court in London with Mr Justice Bell, said the court needed to consider whether the machines should be classified as motor vehicles as a possible answer to the difficulties they posed.

The judges reserved judgement on a test case challenge by the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire to a Harrogate magistrates court decision last February that motorised scooters were not motor vehicles.

Scooter rider Michael Saddington, 38, from Middlesbrough was cleared of driving a motor vehicle whilst disqualified and driving without insurance.

Regret

He described a "Keystone Cops" scene in which he had been chased on his scooter through Harrogate town centre by police with flashing lights and sirens wailing in March 1999.

Mr Saddington said he had borrowed a friend's motorised scooter on the spur of the moment but now regretted using it on the road.

"We all know what the roads are like," he said. "They are not even adapted for bicycles, let alone these things, which are very hard to control."

Mr Saddington's solicitor Richard Reed, said manufacturers and retailers needed to send out a clear message that the scooters were not motor vehicles and not to be used on the roads.

But police solicitor Geraldine Kelly urged the High Court to class the machines as motor vehicles so their use could be controlled in the interests of public safety.

Vulnerable riders

She said their existing status was causing confusion.

About 400 scooter rider prosecutions are still pending.

If the judges rule that the scooters are motor vehicles they would be illegal on the roads because they do not have do not have lights and the brakes are not up to the required standards.

Inspector Mick Bennett, of Cleveland Police, said riders were vulnerable.

"They are like a child's scooter and very unstable," he said.

"The draft from a passing vehicle could blow the rider off and cause themselves injuries."

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