Some cab prices in Merseyside area to rise by a THIRD

The Liverpool Echo reports that Police have said a shortage of cabs could lead to increased crime in a Merseyside area, with it also being revealed some fares there will rise by over a THIRD.

The substantial increase is set to hit black cab customers in Wirral across all tariffs following a consultation with drivers.

It came as results from a survey about cabs in the area revealed what a difficult position the industry is in – including insufficient demand, fears visitors to the area will not return because of bad experiences, and potential crime caused by a lack of night time services.

Two separate documents are set to be discussed by Wirral council’s licensing, health and safety and general purposes committee when it meets on September 19.

The first of those – a review of Hackney carriage fares – has revealed how they are set for a significant rise – some by as much as 37.5%.

That will mean a one-mile journey on the night tariff will increase from £4.30 to £5.40 – by 25.6%,

Other fare rises aren’t so steep but are still going up – a one mile journey on the normal day rate tariff will rise from £4 to £4.60.

For a one-mile trip on public and bank holidays, that will mean a 14.3% increase from £4.90 to £5.60, while on the Christmas and New Year tariff, that will see a huge 37.5% rise – from £6.40 to £8.80.

Several representations from industry figures were made to the council over the proposals, with both supporting and opposing views submitted.

One said the proposed increases were “excessive”, adding that it will lead customers to seek alternative transport options.

The letter said that the proposals were made by a “small minority” of union members, adding: “I personally believe that what with the financial pressure some of our customers are under, to ask for this increase shows a total lack of common sense.”

Another letter to be discussed by councillors was from a private hire operator, who wrote that the changes “will assist us greatly”. He said “ill-conceived and unsustainable” Hackney carriage fare structures through the Liverpool city region meant private hire services already dominate “more than 80% of the Merseyside taxi market”.

He added the rise meant private hire would be able to corner the “remaining 20%” of their target market.

Members will be asked to consider the representations received by the council, and decide whether to bring in the new fares.

Also at the meeting, the committee will discuss a survey about the supply and demand for Hackney carriage vehicles in the borough.

That survey came out with the following observations:

Police officers felt there was a weekend and overnight “shortage” of both Hackney carriage and private hire in the area and, as they told the survey, “that did lead to potential issues of crime and disorder”.

It suggested there was “insufficient demand” for the current Hackney carriage fleet, although many “gain significant fares” from phone orders.

There were no “significant” levels of unmet demand, but said a lot of the off-peak demand was by phone rather than people going to ranks. But there does not appear to be “enough sufficiently rewarding work available either for these pockets of demand to be met by either Hackney carriage or private hire means.”

Asda in Birkenhead was the busiest rank, with the next two busiest Claughton Road and Liscard.

The night rank Conway Street provided just 3% of total estimated weekly passengers.
Of six ranks surveyed, one saw “poor” service, one was “fair”, and all others were “good” or “very good”.

The only request for a new rank was for locations in New Brighton.

People interviewed said they were more confident of getting a Hackney carriage in the day than at night, with 14% of those surveyed saying they could not get one. People were also unaware they could flag down a black cab.

There are currently 258 licensed vehicles out of a current limit of 289.

Mystery shoppers found good service from ranks and on trips taken.

Hackney carriage drivers told the survey the limit on that number “should be retained”.

The demand in Wirral is “generally both disparate and low volume”, but there are “frustrated” potential customers who need the service to benefit Wirral’s economy. It said the impact from that was that there was a “very high potential” people visiting the area would have poor experiences that may prevent them from coming back.

It added: “The issue is how to marry supply to demand at these lower levels. Something needs to happen to reverse the spiral of decline.”

The committee members will be asked whether they want to continue the policy of limiting Hackney carriage vehicle numbers, or to remove the policy “in order to allow further future development of the fleet when required”.

That question will also be put to a public consultation.



Taxi drivers seek decision on capping numbers

Taxi driver Ian Wortherspoon wants a decision on licence capping

Two taxi drivers have hit out at Falkirk Council for not making a decision on capping taxi numbers.

The local authority ordered an independent expert to report on demand for taxis to decide if councillors should cap the number of licences handed out. The council paid half the cost with the taxi trade picking up the rest of the bill.

Currently there are 444 operator licences.

The survey showed there is no un-met demand in the Falkirk area and that there are more taxis per head of population in Falkirk than any of its neighbouring council areas. Falkirk has one cab per 300 people while Midlothian has one per 1500 and Clackmannanshire one per 700 residents.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s environment and community safety committee, it was decided to note the results of the survey and defer a decision on the capping of plates to allow a public consultation to go ahead and for the first meeting of the taxi and private hire forum to be held.

Ian Wotherspoon from Bainsford, who has been driving taxis for 15 years, said the council must cap the number of licences.

He said: “There are drivers having to work 16-hour shifts just to make enough to feed their families. There are just too many taxis and not enough customers.

“This survey shows that, unanimously, drivers and taxi operators want a cap. So why are we still waiting? This survey was ordered to be carried out a year ago and there is still no action. We just want a decision. Even if they decide not to cap, at least there would be an end to the process.”

Roy Kerr has been driving for 25 years and he agrees a cap would be beneficial.

“It feels like this has been dragging on and on. The committee decided to wait for a public consultation to go ahead but they have done a consultation before. Action needs to be taken so drivers can make a decent living.”

Committee convenor Councillor Craig R. Martin, said the council was confident it was doing the right thing and said a public consultation on taxis carried out in 2010 centred around the service, not on taxi numbers.

He added: “The decision on whether to cap the number of taxi licences is a very important one and it is something that will affect many people.

“There was a cap imposed in the 1990s and as a result there were not enough taxis to go around. We want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again and that the people of Falkirk get the service they deserve. The only way to make sure of this is to take our time and carry out a public consultation.”


Dundee City council agrees survey to set taxi limit

Dundee City Council is to commission a survey to set a limit on the number of taxis in the city, while 60% of cabs are to be made wheelchair accessible.

The licensing committee says it has agreed a range of recommendations so the city is not swamped by more taxis than the market can support and to address demands for a better service for disabled passengers.

Councillors also agreed to bring in a system of formal training for drivers, although there will be further discussions about the course to be chosen.

The committee had previously accepted the case for a mixed fleet of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) and saloon cars to comply with its legal duty under the Equality Act.

The ratio of WAVs to saloons was subject to further investigation and a report by Roger Mennie, head of democratic and legal services, from official data, concluded that disabled persons are on average 67% more likely to use taxis and private hire cars than the general public.

In the absence of universal formula, he considered the best way to proceed was to move towards a target of 60/40 between WAVs and saloon cars.

There were 621 taxis in Dundee on September 30 with 52.8% WAVs (328 vehicles) and 47.2% saloons (293).

A number of taxi trade representatives spoke of their difficulties in making a living in the current economic climate.

They said there were often too many taxis to fit into ranks and some drivers had to work up to 16 hours a day.

They called for the number of taxis in the city to be restricted to make the trade more viable for existing drivers.

Mr Mennie’s report said a limit could only be imposed if the committee was satisfied there was no unmet demand for taxis, and this could only be done by holding a survey to set a top figure.

Councillors agreed to this approach, and consultants will be brought in to carry out this work.

The trade called for a moratorium on new licences until the survey is carried out, but Mr Mennie said this could lead to a legal challenge and the council being accused of maladministration.

New licences will be issued to applicants prepared to put on WAVs until a limit is imposed. If that limit is lower than the number of taxis on the street, the number will be reduced by natural wastage, and the committee will then discuss how the 60/40 split can be achieved.

The issue of Dundee drivers undergoing training to SVQ level 2 provoked lively discussion.

Chris Elder of Unite the union said they would provide the training for their own members at no cost and they can offer the course for non-members for £600. Dundee College can offer a Go Skills course costing more than £600, and there is also the possibility of taxi offices running courses as training centres.


Chorley to retain numbers control on taxis

Chorley’s railway station and hospital could be set to get taxi ranks.

Councillors are to investigate the idea following a study.

They have also decided to keep the current limit of 36 hackney carriages in the town.

Two other proposals rejected were: To issue any number of additional plates as is seen fit, either in one allocation or a series; or remove the limit altogether.

Chorley Council’s licensing and public safety committee met yesterday to discuss taxi provision in the borough.

At its meeting in March, members instructed Jamie Carson, the council’s Director of People and Places, to proceed with an “unmet demand” survey of hackney carriage provision in Chorley. The survey was awarded to Halcrow following a tendering process.

It was carried out in June, July and August.

Among the main recommendations were the consideration of new ranks at Chorley Railway Station and Chorley Hospital.

The study stated: “The feasibility of a rank at Chorley Station should be investigated with Northern Rail. The trade, stakeholders and members of the public all expressed a desire for a rank in the location, therefore if one were to be introduced it is likely it would be viable and used by both passengers and drivers.

“Further investigation should be undertaken into the provision of taxi services at Chorley Hospital. Some 68 per cent of public respondents believed a hackney carriage rank should be introduced here.

“However, only two of the hackney carriage trade respondents stated they would use a taxi rank in this location if one were provided, meaning it is unlikely a traditional rank would be viable unless the trade could see a clear demand for their services.”

Chorley Council currently licenses 36 full time hackney carriage vehicles.

The authority also licenses around 140 private hire vehicles. There are five official taxi ranks across Chorley.

There are two 24 hour ranks on High Street, which operate as one (split by the junction with Cleveland Street).

In addition, there are two designated night time ranks on Cleveland Street and Market Street.


Dublins Taxi ranks

To those that may be concerned about this, in particular those in the Irish Department of Transport, and especially taxi drivers/owners around Europe.

On Friday 14th of April 2011 I went to work at about eight a.m. At 3 pm I had earned thirty three euro. Thats not unusual, it is very rapidly becoming the norm. I just could not take anymore and I decided to make this video.

I started at 15.05 and finished at about 15.48, when the cameras battery ran out.

It clearly shows exactly what is happening on the city centre streets of Dublin on a Friday afternoon, traditionally one of the busiest times for taxi work.

In the video there are two cars moving off ranks with passengers in them. From all the taxis parked and driving around Dublin city centre, in a 45 minute period, there were 2 jobs. I know there may have been more, but the reality is, thats what my camera recorded randomly, and driving a taxi is very much subject random decisions by passengers to take a taxi or not.

The camera was on my dashboard, and I could not point it at anything, where the car went, the camera pointed. The exception being the Molly Malone when I was stopped at traffic lights, and I only did that to show the illegal rankers in the loading bay had lots of legally parked cars on the Molly Malone rank, to compete with.

I understand the situation is much the same around the country.

I tried to video Friday night to show that level of chaos there is on the streets, but the video is too dark and is useless for viewers.

The video has been speeded up by 800 percent for a number of reasons, but mainly due to Youtube limitations.

I will put the original file on a CD and send it to the relevant persons in the Department of Transport, might even deliver it to Leo,s clinic in person.

Either way I would not hold my breath waiting for any kind of improvements in the taxi industry in Ireland.

The reality is, this situation is soul destroying. Depression and suicide are rampant in the taxi industry. Back problems, and other stress related illnesses are way above the national and international norms. These illnesses are being suffered by people that can not afford to go to Doctors for any proper treatment, as the money they have got is being used to pay for the homes and to feed their children. Taxi drivers regularly borrowing twenty euros off other drivers, to put fuel in their cars.

We know the government line has always been that they do not want passengers queuing for taxis, and the new government is toeing the same line. Why would they think that taxi drivers want passengers to queue, thats ridiculous. In the real world however they do not have any problem with taxi drivers having to queue for hours to get a job. Are we not people too? Do we deserve to have to wait hours for work? Do the men and women that work in this industry, have any less rights than any other citizen? Well it would appear that when it comes to treatment being meted out fairly and equally from the Irish government to Irish taxi drivers, the answer is no. We are treated with absolute contempt.
The department of Transport and the taxi regulators office has the blood of about 40 suicides on their hands, and they do not care. That figure is rising on almost a weekly basis, and still the government will not even show the slightest interest in the welfare of the men and women it calls Public Service Vehicle Drivers.

I also want all European taxi drivers to view this video to see reality on the streets of Dublin. They think they are not deregulated and as such, they should keep their heads down. The facts are that, taxis are deregulated in Ireland and its only a matter of time before big business comes after the taxi industry in your town. Only then will you realise how bad things can get.

One amazing fact is: We can not get the EU, even with al its pro business directives etc, to do anything to help us. It seems the EU rules only apply to big businesses. Irish government subsidies to taxi drivers are permitted so long as they don,t go over seventy thousand euro, free medical services, cheap rent, subsidised rents, cash payouts are all permitted to new entrants, but those of us that invested our own cash in a regulated industry get nothing, no help from anybody, or the so called saviours of Europe, The, EU Commission. Well I,ve news for you all, the EU Commission do not like small business operators.

Found on you tube, video done by John Fitzpatrick

Council plan could kill off local taxi firms, claim

TAXI drivers are fearing for the future of their businesses due to proposals which could see increased competition on Burton’s roads.

East Staffordshire Borough Council is planning to remove the limit on the number of Hackney carriages allowed in Burton, which is likely to mean less custom for the town’s current firms.

In a further blow, the council is also proposing to allow private hire taxis to accept customers who flag them down as they pass or from taxi ranks.

Currently only Hackney carriages are permitted to take customers who hail cabs and from taxi ranks, as well as prebookings, whereas private hire taxis can only take fares that have been booked in advance.

Under the new plans, a private hire cab from Derby dropping a customer in Burton would then be able to be flagged down by another customer wanting to travel elsewhere in the town, meaning Burton custom lining the pockets of Derby taxi firms.

Taxi drivers in Burton feel that an increase in the amount of Hackney carriages will swallow up competition in what is a relatively small town.

Additional proposals to allow private hire vehicles from elsewhere to pick up customers in Burton are seen as a further kick in the teeth, which taxi firms say could put them out of business.

Shokad Mahmood, owner of A1 Taxis and 58 Taxis, in Station Street, said: “Burton is a very small place. If big firms are allowed to hijack all the trade, we will be finished. More cars will be allowed to come on the roads, from areas such as Derby and Lichfield. These cars are not allowed to pick up fly-by passengers at the moment, but now they will be able to hang around in Burton.

“It is going to ruin the business, and all other small taxi businesses around here.”

The plans are currently in their consultation stage, with East Staffordshire Borough Council keen to hear the views of both taxi drivers and members of the public.

Mr Mahmood pledged to fight the council’s proposals in a bid to safeguard the future of his business.

“I have been to a town hall meeting, and more meetings are in the pipeline. This could ruin my business, we’re going to arrange more meetings and take it from there.

A spokesman for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “The proposals are only at the consultation stage at present and we are urging people, including licensed taxi drivers, to respond to the proposals.”

A final decision is expected to be made following the end of the consultation period on Monday, September 10.

Members of the public can have their say about the proposals at

Wolverhampton taxi drivers oppose plans for more cabs

Taxi drivers in Wolverhampton have taken part in a go-slow protest over plans that could see the number of cabs in the city increase.

Parminder Sekhon, from Wolverhampton Taxi Owners Association, said: “The point we’re trying to make is this is what will happen if they issue more licences.”

Wolverhampton City Council said people had told them there were often not enough taxis available.

The plans are part of a consultation.

Nick Edwards, the council’s assistant director for regeneration, said: “The proposals form one element of a major piece of work to explore options for how we can enhance the city centre.

“But I must stress these are only proposals at this stage.”

‘First of many’

The council’s consultation ends on 14 September.

Mr Sekhon said: “This is not something we wanted to do but we’ve got no choice, the council wants to flood our streets with more taxis.

“There’s no need for any more and the point we’re trying to make is this is what will happen if they issue more licences.

“We’ve wanted to raise public awareness which we have done but this could be the first of many protests.”

He added there were 170 taxis in Wolverhampton and about 160 drivers had taken part in the protest.

The go-slow started at 10:00 and last until about 13:30 BST, said Mr Sekhon.


Wolverhampton: Go-slow protest over black cab plan

Taxi drivers are planning a go-slow protest through Wolverhampton to oppose council proposals to bring more black cabs into the city.

Council bosses say they have received complaints that there are not enough taxis available, particularly at weekends and in the evenings.

But drivers are disputing this, saying that taxi numbers have shot up in recent years while trade has fallen dramatically.

A consultation has been launched by the council with the aim of increasing the number of Hackney Carriages available to boost night time trade. But Parminder Sekhon, chairman of the Wolverhampton Taxi Owners’ Association, said any move to increase black cabs could in no way be justified. “This would kill us,” Mr Sekhon said. “Trade is already down 50 per cent compared to five or six years ago and fuel prices are at an all-time high.

“There used to be 65 black cabs in Wolverhampton and now there are 170 – and that’s just black cabs, not private hire.

“The council just want to flood the streets with cabs.

“It’s in their interests to do so because they receive more licensing money, for which we already pay the highest rates in the West Midlands.

“We have got a protest being planned to show just how many taxis we have got. We plan to block the streets and do a go-slow through the city.”

Views are also being sought on proposals that prospective Hackney Carriage drivers would be allowed to buy taxis up to eight years of age. Currently drivers must buy brand new Hackney Carriages. Nick Edwards, Wolverhampton council’s assistant director for regeneration, said: “These proposals form one element of a major piece of work that has been commissioned to explore options for how we can enhance the city centre offer.

“We have been told that people feel there are not enough taxis available, particularly at weekends and of the evenings.” He added: “I must stress that these are only proposals at this stage and we want to hear the views of all interested parties.” The consultation runs until September 14.


Solution found in bitter dispute over increase in taxi numbers

TAXI drivers have struck a deal with a council after taking High Court action over the number of vehicles which would be allowed to operate across vast swathes of the Yorkshire Dales.

The drivers obtained an injunction in March to prevent Richmondshire District Council deregulating the licences it issued to cabs and sought a judicial review of the plans.

They claimed the move would see the area flooded with taxis, putting many existing drivers out of business.

But a new deal has now been struck which will see the number of vehicles increased from 65 to 77, and all 12 of the new cabs will have to be fully accessible.

The chairman of Richmondshire Taxi Association, Keith Walker, said: “The deal that we struck with them was because they thought there was a need for more wheelchair-accessible vehicles, so we have agreed to the 12 extra.

“This means 12 people have a chance for a new job.”

Richmondshire District Council had argued that deregulation would help provide more taxis to serve a wider area and was particularly important for the local economy, which relies heavily upon tourism.

But when it went ahead with the plans at the end of March – in time for the new plates to be issued in April – the drivers protested that a full consultation had not been carried out.

Since then, Mr Walker said more research had been done and a survey carried out had not shown that there was any demand for more cabs.

The council, meanwhile, carried out consultations with residents, visitors and taxi drivers to find out the level of demand for a change in services.

“This is a very important issue, both for the taxi trade and the travelling public,” said Coun Jill McMullon, the chairwoman of the licensing committee, which will set the final details of the policy at a future meeting.

“It was essential that councillors took a clear view on the way forward, considering all the options open.

“We have come forward with a ‘win-win’ solution, where the service for disabled users will be much improved, and the new licences will allow us to try to increase taxi provision in the remoter parts of our district – two key issues which our consultation with residents picked up on.

“They will also provide an opportunity for new businesses to be established within the taxi trade at a time when the local economy could do with a boost.”

Council leader John Blackie, who had been in favour of deregulation, said: “Clearly we need to listen to the results of the consultation. Whilst we didn’t go the whole hog, at least at this point we have got 12 additional plates.”

In June, when the new consultation was announced, he said: “Deregulation will allow opportunities for small businesses to be created at this difficult time for employment, as well as improving taxi services for travelling members of the public.”

Mr Walker said he did not know if all 12 of the licences would be taken up, but said there was some demand for accessible vehicles in the area, particularly at the army base.

“With Catterick being close by and quite a lot of soldiers coming back from Iraq, they have a rehabilitation centre there and there’s some need for accessible vehicles for them,” he added.

Although seven per cent of people in the recent survey did say they wanted changes such as more accessible vehicles, Mr Walker said he was pleased that 82 per cent said they were happy with the taxi services provided in Richmondshire.

And he said he was relieved the dispute had been resolved, after months of disagreement which even saw more than 40 hackney cabs and private hire cars blockade the centre of Richmond last October.

“We know where we are now,” Mr Walker added.

“All in all, it has come out the best for everybody.”


Council sticks to ‘hail and ride’ cab limit of 283 in Southampton

Taxi numbers capped as cabbies struggle in recession

THERE will be no increase in taxis on Southampton’s city streets – after cabbies said more competition would ruin their livelihoods.

Cabbies, who complained to councillors about already overflowing ranks from a lack of work, feared even more taxis will make it even harder for them to make ends meet.

Councillors agreed to follow the recommendations of a once in three-year review by transport consultants and keep the number of hail and ride cabs in the city capped at 283.

Clive Johnson, chairman of the Southampton Trade Association, which has around 450 members including 100 Hackney Carriage drivers, welcomed the decision.

“It was inevitable really. At the present moment in time we’ve got taxi drivers being booked for parking at the end of ranks because we’ve nowhere to go. There is no work out there.”

Consultants Halcrow, who were paid £15,000 to carry out the survey, found sufficient taxis were “generally available” in the city although there was a need for more wheelchair friendly cabs.

Only one third of those surveyed felt the taxi service could be improved, but nearly half thought fares should be cheaper. Nearly half the cabbies surveyed said they would leave the trade if more licences were issued, and 84 per cent said they wanted additional and longer ranks.

Ian Hall, chairman of the Southampton Hackney Association, told councillors there were only 15 24-hour taxi ranks in the city with spaces for 73 taxis, leaving a shortfall of 210 spaces. He added the council had shortened the ranks in recent years.

Despite opposition from the trade, three years ago the council agreed to issue 20 more lucrative taxi licences – worth up to £35,000 on the open market – in a controversial secret lottery exposed by the Daily Echo.

Perry McMillan, from the Southampton taxi section of the Unite union, said: “This survey confirms what we’ve been saying all along. We feel the decision three years ago to ignore our pleas has caused a lot of hardship for the trade. And the timing of the (latest) survey, before the last eight new plates went on in December, shows we didn’t need them.”

The survey also found more permits should be issued for taxis to work the docks, and that more needed to be done to improve access and reduce congestion.

Docks owners ABP signed an agreement with the council three years ago to issue permits and enforce standards after concerns about scruffy drivers, cherry picking of fares, and allegations of overcharging. The permits cost £63.

But the decision could be challenged as under Government guidelines Southampton City Council must show that retaining a limit on the number of taxis in the city benefits customers.

One Conservative councillor, Brian Parnell, questioned whether the city should remain closed shop to new cabbies.

The number of licensed private hire vehicles – around 550 – is not limited.