Cabbies in Chester are fighting private hire plans, as they say that the new plans to lift restrictions on private hire vehicles will ruin their trade.
The cabbies are already under pressure and the Chester Licensed Hackney Association argue that the plans will further inundate an already overcrowded market, with too many taxis competing for too few passengers. Richard Barker, Chairman of the Chester Licensed Hackney Association said that the number of black Hackney cabs in the city had jumped from 77 to more than 140 since deregulation which was introduced a few years ago which was “way too much” for the Chester area.
Barker said, “When you take into account there are also 500 private vehicles, you see it is too small a city to sustain that demand,
“If you drive to a taxi rank and it is full, the law says you must drive on to the next taxi rank. We have only 43 spaces across the city for 140 black cabs. That means you can drive around for hours and not get any work. We already have had five drivers recently whose cars got repossessed.”
Barker also said that there were proposals by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) to allow private hire cars to use taxi ranks throughout the city and to function as black cabs.
The recession, declining customer demand, increasing fuel costs and increasing UK taxi insurance, Barker says that “We are being driven to the ground. If this new legislation is enacted, it would likely be the end of trade in Chester.”
Chris Farrell, Secretary of the association, said that they will express their concerns to the attention of CWaC officials at a meeting later on this week.
Farrell said that “We are campaigning for this to stop. But the problem is not just this. They have made it much easier to become a taxi driver by making the tests more simple. People never fail these tests any more. Many drivers are from places like Manchester and don’t know the city, and as a result they aren’t driving the shortest route and people are getting ripped off. This is damaging our reputation and driving away customers.”
He also said, “I have written to MP Stephen Mosley and to councillors, we are going back and we are campaigning for this to change.”