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Proposals to change taxi policy in Hyndburn met with anger
11:00am Sunday 8th December 2013 in News
TAXI drivers in Hyndburn could be forced to buy newer cars, modify their vehicles, and remove advertisements, new plans revealed.
Hyndburn Council is proposing several changes to its taxi policy, and is consulting with taxi companies across the borough.
Private hire taxis older than seven years would be taken off the road, all hackney carriages would be required to fit a ‘swivel’ seat for disabled passengers, cars would have to meet emissions targets, and adverts on glasswork would be prohibited, if the council goes ahead with its plans.
But a spokesman for Max Cabs, in Accrington, said the move would ‘kill or cripple an already struggling trade’, and questioned the motive of the council.
He said: “Taxis are exempt from MOTs, but they have an MOT-style check by the council twice a year, and three times when they reach a certain age.
“They are the safest cars on the road and if they have passed the test, what does age matter?”
“We carry out 25,000 journeys a week and have 400 taxis on the road between 6am and 9am taking people to school and work.”
Most drivers at the firm would not be able to afford to buy a newer vehicle without passing that cost on the customer, the spokesman added.
Deputy leader of Hyndburn Council, Clare Pritchard, denied the council was trying to reduce the number of taxis on the road to encourage residents to use the upcoming £40m Pennine Reach bus services, or that it was retaliating after a blunder left the council facing a £200,000 bill because it failed to advertise increases in taxi licensing fees.
Coun Pritchard said: “There is nothing to retaliate against. It was a simple administrative mistake and we are paying the money back.
“There’s no benefit to us whether people use the bus service or taxis, we just want the highest standard of transport in Hyndburn.
“This is about providing a comprehensive plan. We have several policies hanging around and this will bring it into one complete policy. I would hope it would improve standards.”
Leader of the opposition, Peter Britcliffe, called the consultation ‘bureaucracy gone mad’.
He said: “This is victimising the taxi drivers. The consultation should end now and the policy should not change.
“What difference does a car’s age make as long as it is fit to drive? In terms of advertising, we know it’s a very competitive market. Taxis are extremely cheap in Hyndburn so why prevent drivers from getting extra from adverts?”
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