New proposal could threaten livelihoods – Cheshire taxi drivers
Cheshire cabbies are fearing for their livelihood if local authorities press ahead with planned regulations and changes to the licensing system, as reported on by ChesterFirst.co.uk
Among the changes proposed include the introduction of new driving tests, age limits for cars and an easing of the restrictions on the amount of taxis which can work in certain areas.
Environmental concerns and public opinion are driving the proposed changes, argue the Cheshire West and Chester Council, but taxi operators feel they could put many cabbies out of business.
Abbey Taxis joint directors Mark Williams argues that the industry is already coming under extreme pressure due to ever-increasing full prices and believes these latest plans could be the final straw for some.
Among the Council proposals is that licences for taxis would expired once the vehicle is 10 years old and that new licences would only be granted to vehicle which are less than a year old.
“We are lobbying against the council’s proposals. There is a solidarity within the trade among ourselves and rivals from directorship level,” said Mr Williams.
“None of us want what the council are proposing. We are calling upon the council to take a sensible approach to the issue.
“Of course, our firms are mindful of the importance of safety and quality vehicles for passengers and we do our utmost to ensure that is the case at all times.
“The council also carry out regular vehicle safety and quality checks so the council already have some control over that.
“We are united as a trade that the council must make a sensible decision to ensure livelihoods are not detrimentally affected.”
Mr Williams fears that the new plans would see many forced off the road and the rising costs for the rest would be passed onto customers in the form of increased fares.
Council spokeswoman Shirley Wingfield said that taxi drivers would be given the opportunity to air their concerns and that a timeframe for the introduction of any new regulations had yet to be determined.
Speaking about the three-month consultation period, which is due to come to a close soon, she said: “This has been supplemented with meetings with taxi and private hire drivers across the borough.
“All interested parties will also be given an opportunity to address the licensing committee.
“In the Chester zone new licences will only be granted to hackney carriage applicants who propose to licence a new vehicle.
“The consultation document proposes to introduce an entry and exit age policy for all licensed vehicles.
“The entry and exit date has yet to be determined but the consultation proposes no more than one year old on entry and exiting the system after reaching 10 years of age on comfort, reliability and environmental grounds.
“Drivers are also asked questions about colour of the vehicles, carrying permitted advertising and quantity restrictions on hackney vehicles in the Ellesmere Port and Neston zone.
“The outcome of the consultation will be considered by the licensing committee on April 16.”