We need more spaces, say angry taxi drivers

Taxi driver Sean Whitehead says Cambridge simply doesn't have enough spaces to cope with the demand

Taxi drivers parking illegally have been targeted by police amid controversial plans to move Cambridge’s main rank.

But drivers are furious that officers are taking a “zero-tolerance” stance on taxis over-ranking in St Andrew’s Street.

The move comes after 600 people signed a petition opposing the relocation of the rank to Drummer Street.

Struggling taxi drivers have been battling with police over the issue of over-ranking in a long-running saga.

Adrian Matlby, a taxi driver, said: “The police said recently they were not going to enforce the 20mph limit because it was a waste of resources, but isn’t giving taxi drivers tickets a waste of resources too?

“There are just six spaces on that rank and they want to get rid of it. And Drummer Street is no good since National Express coaches moved to Parkside. You can never get a fare there now.

“What they should do is put another four spaces in St Andrew’s Street and put a sign in the Drummer Street rank telling drivers if a space is free in the main rank.

“The drivers have no choice – unless they go around and around the block, but that uses fuel and causes more pollution.”

Fellow taxi driver Sean Whitehead added: “I think it’s crazy. Cambridge would be the only city in Britain without a taxi rank. I can understand why the police come down on over-ranking but all we need is a few more spaces.”

David Wratten, of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, which represents the trade, is holding crunch meetings with the city and county councils this month.

He said: “The police are only doing their job because of complaints from residents in the past but drivers are trying to make a living.

“What we need is a solution to this problem and we are proposing a sign with cameras that will alert drivers in Drummer Street that there is a free space in St Andrew’s Street.”

Police have previously branded the rank as a “hotspot for the obstruction of vehicles” and have been issuing the tickets to taxis after calls from residents to make it a priority.

Sgt Andrea Gilbert said: “Officers take a zero tolerance approach to vehicles parked in dangerous positions or causing an obstruction of the highway, including the footpaths.

“On Thursday, officers were clamping down on parking restrictions at St Andrew’s taxi rank.

“We would urge motorists to park sensibly in Cambridge city centre.”

Taxi drivers have previously threatened to bring gridlock to the city because of a shortage of taxi ranks.

Cambridgeshire County Council has proposed closing the rank in a bid to speed up bus travel and promised there would be a major public consultation.

source: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/

Cabbies’ anger at clogged-up ranks

problem parking: Cars clog up a taxi rank in Friargate, Preston. Drivers say scenes like this are becoming more common.

Cabbies in Preston today called for urgent action over drivers clogging up the city’s taxi ranks.

Hackney carriage drivers say they are regularly confronted with “repeat offenders” blocking up ranks in Friargate and Church Street because they want to park for free.

That forces taxis to park outside the ranks, with police often moving them on.

Drivers have previously called police to try and deal with the problem. But they say that officers and the council are still not doing enough to get normal cars off the ranks.

Pete Tyson, of the Preston Hackney Carriage Association, said: “They (the police) do ask you to move on.

“One of the main ranks is on Friargate and four months ago we asked licensing (at the Town Hall) to speak to the County Council about re-establishing the yellow marks on the road so you can see the rank more clearly.

“Four months on and we are no nearer.

“The problem is the parking wardens finish in the evening at about 7pm.

“We have asked them to stop out later but they have said they need a police escort.

“We ring the police constantly and ask them to do something but they have a high work load.”

Association secretary Mark Selley added: “To be fair to the police when we call them they will come out and ticket some of the cars.

“The police need to react rather than be phoned by us. They will often drive past the ranks ignoring the cars that are there.

“And I think (parking wardens) can work later. That is in their remit.

“A lot of these cars are regular offenders, they are people who work in restaurants or bars.”

Rick Hayton, assistant director for strategic highways, at Lancashire County Council, said: “We aim to be flexible in the way we carry out parking enforcement and our officers work in the evenings if required.

“This would generally need to be as part of a planned operation as there are extra considerations such as increased need for safety which come into play when working late in city centre areas.

“The first step would be to build up a clear picture of the problem and I would ask taxi drivers to report any issues to us on 0800 195 2774.

“Work is scheduled to repaint the rank on Friargate this summer.”

source: http://www.lep.co.uk/news/

Taxi drivers warned over double parking at station

TAXI drivers parking illegally and making dangerous manoeuvres outside Tunbridge Wells Railway Station have been warned to stop or face the consequences.

Cabs regularly stop in the lay-by outside the train station in Mount Pleasant Road in lines of two which means the vehicles are partially parked on the road and over double yellow lines.

Taxis double parked outside Tunbridge Wells train station in Mount Pleasant Road on Tuesday 15th May

They are also performing dangerous U-turns across the busy road. The borough council and Kent Police have promised to crack down on any drivers who flout the laws.

When the Courier went to the station at 10.30am on Wednesday there were six vehicles parked on the double yellow lines and encroaching on to the road.

Meanwhile the taxi rank at the back of the station was half-full and the one next to the Great Hall, off Mount Pleasant Road, was completely empty.

The council’s parking manager Emma Pell said: “The parking at the taxi rank outside Tunbridge Wells station is something that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is well aware of. As the lay-by is private property, double parking within this area is not enforceable.

“Civil enforcement officers have, and do, move cars on when they are seen to be waiting outside this area.”

The police said they would take action when taxis make U-turns in the road.

Drivers do this because their vehicle needs to be facing towards the bottom of the hill to exit the rank.

Inspector Justin Watts, of Kent Police, said: “Taxi drivers, just like any other vehicles, have to obey the rules of the road.

“Taxi drivers, in particular, have no excuse, as they know the local area well and would be well aware of any highway restrictions.

“We will be working with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to ensure that a permanent solution is found to the issues with illegal parking and turning by taxis.”

Farid Fakoor, manager of Express Cars based in Woodbury Close, defended the taxis and urged the borough council to remove the double yellow lines.

“I think it is safe. The problem around the Mount Pleasant side of the station is there are around 105 plated taxis who pay £290 per year to park in the rank and it is not big enough.

“It wouldn’t be safe if we park in threes but I think twos are safe.”

source: http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/

Durham Taxi rank ‘not enough’ to solve congestion

We told you so

A NEW five-space taxi rank will do nothing to solve horrendous congestion problems blighting a city centre, critics claim.

Since Durham County Council deregulated the taxi trade last September, hundreds of cabs have been competing for trade in Durham City, causing long queues up Claypath and Gilesgate late into the night.

The council has announced a new taxi rank on the slip road between Leazes Bowl roundabout and Claypath, operating between 6pm and 8am from Thursday night.

A ban on private vehicles using the Market Place-bound carriageway of lower Claypath between 9pm and 4am will be abandoned. Other night-time taxi ranks will remain unchanged.

Owen Cleugh, the council’s consumer protection manager, said it had listened to people’s concerns.

“The introduction of the new rank will hopefully reduce the taxi queues. We are looking to move these queues to areas that will cause minimal disruption to residents,” he said.

Superintendent Ivan Wood, of Durham Police, said he hoped the new rank would improve the quality of life of city centre residents and the police would take whatever steps were necessary to solve the problems.

However, Kirsty Thomas, of Claypath, said: “There should be no taxis parking beyond the delegated taxi rank. They won’t all fit on the new rank.

“We’ll be watching very carefully. The situation now is absolutely appalling.”

Elvet councillor David Freeman said: “The taxi situation in Claypath is totally unacceptable. Residents’ lives are being blighted by the noise of engines, radios playing and car doors slamming until early morning.

“While the new taxi rank is welcome it will do little to resolve the problems.

“I want the council to ban any taxi queuing beyond the Claypath taxi rank. Taxis should be made to wait in a holding area until spaces in the rank become free. This new rank can only be the beginning of the solution rather than the end of the problem.”

Adrian Fets, of STL Cabs, said the new rank was an accident waiting to happen and cabbies would shun it because passengers would ignore it.

Steve Pratt, of Pratt’s Taxis, said allowing private vehicles back onto Claypath would worsen the situation.

Taxi marshals will help the new system become established.

source: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/

Taxi Rank Review

A taxi rank review in Lancaster and Morecambe has been “a long time coming” according to a city cabbie.

The city council’s licensing committee approved a six-week consultation period with drivers at a meeting last week, following proposals by the Lancaster City Hackney Proprietors Association (LCHPA) to make changes to a number of ranks in Lancaster and Morecambe.

The proposals include extending the rank in Common Garden Street in Lancaster to four spaces, and a new rank on County Street at Lancaster Railway Station.

Hackney carriage stands would also be removed from Gage Street in the city.

In Morecambe,the LCHPA proposes two more spaces outside the Arndale Centre on Market Street, and a new full-time rank for 12 taxis, increasing to 17 taxis after 6pm, in Queen Street.

The proposals also call for the removal of stands on Broadway, Marine Road East (Elm Grove), Marine Road Central (night-time rank), Marine Road East – opposite Morecambe Town Hall, Marine Road Central – opposite the war memorial, Marine Road West, near Frontierland, and Victoria Street.

Bill Riley, taxi proprietor and a founding member of taxi company 848848, said: “The reason the list is so long is because the council has not reviewed the stands for at least 10 years.

“As a result, two stands in Morecambe don’t even exist any more.

“In short, the whole thing just needs reviewing.

“What’s been put down is what, in general, the trade wants.”

source: http://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk

Shipley private hire boss angry at taxi rank plan for station

The boss of a private hire firm has raised concerns over possible plans to install a hackney carriage rank at Shipley rail station.

Members of Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Panel have instructed officers to look into setting up taxi stands at both Shipley and Keighley stations so disabled passengers have easy access to wheelchair accessible vehicles.

But Craig Brook, manager of AA Shipley, claims there is no need for a taxi rank at Shipley, as private hire firms, including his own, are already providing wheelchair accessible vehicles to passengers who need them.

The business has installed a free phone line at the station and a hackney carriage presence would inevitably hit trade, he said.

Mr Brook said: “Shipley station is serviced by at least nine private hire firms. I don’t see any benefit whatsoever in having hackney carriages there.

“If there’s a hackney carriage stand there customers will just jump in a taxi.

“There are more than 250 cars in the companies that service the station and there’s no issue of people not being able to get taxis and we have never had a problem supplying disabled passengers. We have had no contact from the Council about this issue and what disabled access we can provide.

“I’d welcome them to contact me and have a meeting so we can tell them what we are able to offer.”

Plans for a taxi rank at the station have been supported by members of the panel, including Councillor John Cole (Lib Dem, Baildon) and Michael Ellis (Con, Bingley Rural).

Coun Cole said: “I am in favour of having hackney carriages available whereby people arrive and they need a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

“Private hire vehicles generally don’t have disabled access and hackney carriages do.

“It’s going to be a commercial decision for the hackney carriage drivers whether they will get enough customers.

source: http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/

King’s Lynn Taxi driver booked for stopping in rank

TAXI driver claims he was fined for parking in a rank after he walked away from his cab to see a disabled customer to the other side of the road.

Then when Colin Wells, of Smith Avenue, North Lynn, wrote to West Norfolk Council to appeal the fine he got slapped with four points on his Hackney Carriage licence.

West Norfolk Council claims it has CCTV evidence that Mr Wells’ vehicle was unattended in the rank in Blackfriars Street, Lynn, for 20 minutes and a witness, who said he parked there for half-an-hour and often does it, which Mr Wells denies. He said: “I think the council are just being little Hitlers.”

Mr Wells, who has been driving cabs for eight years, said he was waiting for his disabled customer to find her purse to pay her fare when he saw the warden arrive and begin producing a ticket.

He explained himself but was still given the ticket and after appealing against the fine in writing was informed he would get points too.

If cabbies get 12 points in a year they can have to face a panel over their suitability to hold the licence.

Mr Wells said: “I am a taxi driver and have every right to stop in the rank. Lorries stop there to deliver stuff every day and a blind eye is turned to that and when the fairground is here they plonk stalls on our rank in Tuesday Market Place for ten to 14 days which means we can’t pick up from The Globe – and that personally costs me more than £100 a week.

“Because I queried the fine, the next thing I know I’ve acquired four points!”

Martin Chisholm, of West Norfolk Council, said: “The council deals with any challenge to a parking ticket based on individual matters.

“This case has been considered based on the facts the motorist presented to us and I believe it has been judged reasonably based on that information.

“If the motorist believes the council has failed to consider an appropriate challenge to his parking ticket there are within law other opportunities for him to challenge this ticket to a higher authority.”

He added: “We regularly book delivery vehicles parked on taxi ranks.”

Mr Chisholm said Mr Wells’ own letter alerted licensing officers to his offence and they issued the standard penalty of four points for leaving a vehicle unattended on a rank.

source: http://www.lynnnews.co.uk/

Illegal taxi ranks clogging up town

Talbot Square roadworks which are affecting taxi ranks in the town

TOWN centre roadworks are forcing taxi drivers to form illegal ranks leading to traffic chaos during busy weekend nights.

Now calls have been made for more consultation between cabbies and council chiefs in order to ease the problem.

Building work is taking place in Talbot Square to create a new pedestrian area in front of the town hall.

It means the existing rank outside The Counting House has moved to a location close to Rumours, while a new taxi rank has been created on the corner of Market Street.

But Mark Marshall, licensing and health and safety manager for Blackpool Council, told a meeting of the licensing committee the disruption was clogging up town centre roads at peak times.

He said: “Due to developments in the town centre, engineering work has pushed the taxis further out of town and this is causing problems with obstructions, especially in Queen Street.

“Taxis are queuing from Queen Street, down Abingdon Street to Springfield Road and are illegally ranked.”

Mr Marshall said complaints had been received from residents and hoteliers in Lord Street who were affected by the queuing taxis.

Bill Lewtas, of the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Association, said: “Various developments in the town centre have reduced the number of rank spaces and we would welcome the opportunity of valid consultation on this. Our view is these should be made available in places where people want them. Change is inevitable due to developments, over which we have no control.

“At the moment we have a situation where the authorities turn a ‘blind eye’ to over-ranking simply because there are not sufficient rank spaces where they are needed. This is very much appreciated.

“In the past highways, licensing, police and our taxi association would review ranks every few years and action would be taken. It is our understanding funding is available for new ranks to be created. By law taxi driver licensing fees must be ring fenced and used only for the benefit of the taxi trade.”

Licensing chairman Coun Norman Hardy said the council’s taxi liaison working group, which he also chairs, was aware of the problems.

http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/

Cabbies call police in rank parking dispute

Cars on the rank in Friargate. Cabbies say they have had to call in police

Furious taxi drivers have called the police deal with drivers parking illegally in city taxi ranks.

Cabbies in Preston say the problem of ordinary cars clogging up ranks has become “worse and worse” in recent months.

The problem affects ranks in Church Street, Lancaster Road and Friargate (pictured), which they say has become worse since a new Tesco Express store opened on the street.

And drivers have even resorted to calling police to try and get the cars moved on.

Mark Selley, the secretary of the city’s Hackney Carriage association said he had a meeting with Town Hall bosses this week and he says police have agreed to keep an eye on the problem.

Mr Selley added: “It has been a problem but I had a meeting with the council and the police were in attendance.

“The police are aware of it and they are going to make sure that when their officers are around the city centre they are keeping an eye out for it.

“There is also cars parked in Church Street and along Lancaster Road as well. There are also some on Guildhall Street, although that is not as bad since Fives closed.

“Drivers do call them (the police) and to be fair the police do respond.

“In an ideal world I would love to speak to the parking enforcement officers and say this is a self-financing.

“If you have to pay parking wardens to work until 10pm, the city centre is full of illegally parked cars.”

Drivers say parking on ranks causes major problems because it means cabs have to park behind the cars and pull round them to pick up fares, creating “bottlenecks” on the roads.

And the cabbies themselves can find themselves in trouble because they are not allowed to rank anywhere except recognised taxi ranks.

Another Hackney Carriage driver, who asked not to be named, said: “It has never gone away, it has just got worse and worse.

“It has got worse since the new Tesco Express opened there.

“It is an absolute free-for-all, not just around Friargate but on Church Street too, and it is causing bottlenecks.

“The taxis coming on to the rank have to go behind the parked cars and when the rank advances they have to pull around the parked cars.

“They are just parking where they want when they want and not caring about the consequences.”

Paul Riley, the manager of Lancashire Parking Services, said wardens do sometimes work at night.

He added: “We aim to be flexible in the way we carry out parking enforcement and our officers work in the evenings if required.

“This would generally need to be as part of a planned operation as there are extra considerations such as increased need for safety which come into play when working late in city centre areas.

“The first step would be to build up a clear picture of the problem and I would ask taxi drivers to report any issues to us on 0800 195 2774 or via our website at www.lancashire.gov.uk/parking.”

source: http://www.lep.co.uk/news/

Rank bad feeling over city crackdown on taxi drivers

TAXI drivers have hit back at a police and council clampdown, claiming they are being unfairly treated.

The Herald has reported how police and Plymouth City Council’s taxi licensing team were to target cabbies who were flouting bylaws, such as creating illegal ranks or having vehicles in an unsafe state.

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However, some drivers feel the operation, which will run on Friday and Saturday evenings at “hotspots” like Mutley Plain, Union Street and the Barbican, does not address the underlying issues.

Michael Boys, a 63-year Hackney carriage driver from Plymstock, said he felt obliged to meet the council’s licensing officers following news of the crackdown.

He said: “They were very helpful, but the problem remains the same. We’re not against the safety checks, but I’ve been driving for 12 years and we don’t have enough rank spaces.

“Where you park is where the public want us and the time they want us. The police want the drinkers removed as soon as possible and if you don’t have taxis available you have trouble.

“Ticketing us is not a cure. There are drivers really upset about it. Last week I was out Monday and Tuesday and I made £29 and £39. If we’re driving around and around, trying to find a rank space, you’re burning expensive petrol.

“We’re being victimised and we feel there are places that could be put in for us to solve a lot of the problems. I met  a very helpful licensing officer and he agreed there was a need to be constructive and that we needed to work together to find a solution.”

Michael’s words were backed by Roy Hamilton, secretary of the Plymouth Licensed Taxi Association.

He said: “The reason is the policies of central and local government.

“They’ve issued 367 taxi licences in Plymouth and every survey says there’s too many taxis in Plymouth.

“They caused this by giving out more licences than can be handled by the ranks.

“The other problem is there’s two types of police officer and you’re caught between them. There’s the one who says ‘get these drunks off the street’ to us and the one who says ‘you’re causing an obstruction – move or I’ll book you’.

“I’ve great sympathy with the council because everyone wants their bit of road – the parking permits, the lorry parking, the bus parking. We know there’s no legal obligation to provide taxi ranks.

“There were more taxi ranks in Plymouth in 1860 than there are now. Working together is the solution, not strict clampdown.

A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said: “We currently have space for 262 vehicles at our taxi ranks across the city which accommodates over 70 per cent of licensed Hackney carriage taxis; this compares favourably with other cities.

“We are in regular contact with the PLTA (Plymouth Licensing Taxi Association) and regularly review the taxi rank provision within the city. Following a recent review of the Barbican there will be a new rank outside the Mayflower Tourist Centre, providing four more spaces for the evenings.

“We are currently reviewing the rank provision in other areas in the city centre. Reviews of rank space at Union Street, Mutley Plain and other high use areas will be ongoing.

“Like most cities there is competing demand for road space and safety issues that restricts the number and position of ranks that can be provided.”

source: Plymouth Herald