City taxi chiefs say enough is enough

By Rob George Friday 22 February 2013 Updated: 22/02 08:44

ANGRY taxi drivers in Worcester have pleaded with the city council to stop issuing licences while a detailed review into the rocketing number of cabs on the city’s roads takes place.

Members of Worcester Taxi Association called for action after new figures showed the number of council-licensed Hackney Carriages has more than doubled in the past decade, while the number of private hire taxis remains largely unchanged.

Just 102 Hackney Carriages were on the road when the last survey into the demand for cabs in Worcester was carried out in 2001.

But at a meeting on Wednesday (February 20) members of the city council’s licensing committee were told 217 were now on the road.

Members agreed a new survey into current demand was now needed but it can only be commissioned with the backing of taxi drivers.

Lesley Borthwick from the association told councillors they would help pay for the survey, but only if a freeze on issuing new licences was introduced.

“The Hackney Carriage plates should have been capped at 102 back in 2001. Back then we paid £13,000 for the survey to be done to determine demand,” she said.

“Since then the number of licences has rocketed and there are some nights where the city is brought to a standstill because of the amount of cars now out there.”

Mrs Borthwick said the association wanted to retain the ‘knowledge test’ of the city’s roads for drivers to ensure the highest standards of service to passengers.

Licensing committee chairman Coun Paul Denham backed the 2001 survey and said even back then 102 licensed taxis felt like the right number for the city.

“It seems to me that if any survey was carried out this year then unmet demand for taxi’s would certainly be proved this time,” he said.

His view was echoed by Coun Richard Udall (Lab, St John’s) who said there were too many taxis on the road, especially in evenings when queues of cabs can stretch up Foregate Street.

But licensing officer Carl Phillips said: “It’s my opinion you cannot suspend issuing Hackney Carriage plates while this survey is taking place.

“For me, we would not be sitting here if we had not introduced rear-entrance vehicles. Since they arrived we have licensed a further 19 vehicles and that, in my opinion, is where the problem is."

“A number of local authorities are concerned about the number of taxis on their roads but the only way to start to look at the issue is through an unmet demand survey.”

Further discussions are set to take place between the association and Worcester City Council on a way forward.

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