TAXI drivers in an historic city say civic bosses have created “a monster” by allowing outside cabbies in to ply for trade.
Durham County Council deregulated the taxi trade, allowing unlimited numbers of vehicles to operate in the city centre from September 1 – despite cabbies’ leaders warning chaos would ensue.
Residents of Claypath, in Durham, say their lives are being ruined by taxis queuing until the early hours.
Now a taxi boss warned the situation will be even worse over Christmas.
Taxi drivers in the city warned of a “free-for-all” when cabbies from outlying areas were given the go-ahead to ply their trade alongside them after deregulation.
Adrian Fets, chairman of Durham Independent Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “We said that allowing a free-for-all into the city centre would be a disaster and we have been proved right. There are far too many taxis coming into Durham City from outlying areas which is causing gridlock. The county council has created a monster and it will get worse over the Christmas period. We get taxis into Durham from places like Peterlee, Easington, Stanley and Bishop Auckland.
“These outsiders think there is money to be made in Durham, but the truth is that they have to hang around for two hours to get a single fare. But the extra influx creates queues which are unacceptable to residents, and nobody can blame them.
“Who wants taxis parked outside their homes at midnight? The council has created this monster and doesn’t know what to do.
“At weekends taxis queue from Claypath right up to Hild and Bede College, and it will be worse over the next three weekends.”
Last month the county council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection Joanne Waller said she hoped the introduction of mobile CCTV would help solve some of the problems.
She said: “While the deregulation has certainly solved some previous problems including people having to wait for long periods for a taxi in Durham City and instances of anti-social behaviour, there is more work to do in this area.”
Yesterday Terry Collins, corporate director for neighbourhood services, said: “The council and the police are continuing to work together to monitor the impact of the changes, which should have a positive effect on people visiting our city during this busy time. We hope these changes will help taxi users to leave the city centre with greater ease.”
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