Cabbies Protest against Deregulation in St. Albans

Cab drivers in St. Albans are staging a protest for the second time in 10 days, against the deregulation of the trade.

The taxi drivers argue that there are too many drivers who are competing for passengers and fares.

There has been a 100% increase in taxis since deregulation in 1999 according to Mohammed Khan from the St. Albans and Harpenden Taxi Association.

The protest lasted for 4 hours. Khan said that his earnings had fallen by 30% in 2 years.

To make a living wage, Khan who has been a taxi driver for 22 years said “The minimum we have to work is 12 hours a day, six days a week”.

Khan apologised to the general public for the strike but said they had to make a point to the council and highlight their dissatisfaction.

He explained that “St. Albans is a very small and compact town and can only cater for so many cabs and I think we surpassed that a long time ago”.

In 1995, the taxi trade in St. Albans was regulated and the district council restricted the number of vehicle licences issued until 1999 when there were 127 hackney carriages.

However, the limit was removed as the strategy was considered too restrictive and there are currently 259 licensed cabs which are all covered by private hire insurance.

Drivers in St. Albans once again asked the licensing committee to consider bringing in a limit on the number of taxi licenses granted but failed in their appeal.

“I would like [the council] to take a serious look at our plight. I think they could do a survey of demand and find out if there is a need or not”, Khan explained.

Chairman of the licensing and regulatory committee at St. Albans District Council, Councillor Gorden Myland, said “With the number of taxi drivers that there are in St Albans, if they weren’t making money, they wouldn’t be coming into St Albans to trade”.

Myland explained that in both 2009 and 2007, reports requesting regulation of licenses were considered by the committee, and based on a reply from the Department for Transport and a report by the Office of Fair Trading, on both occasions the decision was made not to regulate.

“I don’t think that a capped system is correct. Besides, over the past 2 years there have only been six new plates added”, Myland pointed out.

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