Cheltenham borough council are currently looking into whether all Hackney carriages in the area should adopt a compulsory colour scheme in the near future. The plan is to make Hackney carriages distinguishable from private hire taxis and mirrors schemes that have already gone ahead in towns such as Bristol, Brighton, and Cardiff. However, the plan is not proving popular with Hackney carriage owners as they would have to pay to have their vehicles re-sprayed out of their own money.
Martin Horwood, Cheltenham MP, is lobbying for the plans to go ahead as he claims it would make the town look better and would also increase safety for those getting taxis late at night. He said: “I know it would take a few years to introduce and be a bit of a cost to the taxi trade but it would promote a smart image for the town, and would also make the licensed Cheltenham Hackney cabs easy identifiable which would do two things.”
“Firstly, it would help to defend Cheltenham cabs against poaching by taxis from elsewhere – especially at peak times like during festivals – and, secondly, it would help punters be confident about identifying the safest taxi option. This would be particularly important for women at night for instance.”
It has been reported that it could cost Hackney carriage drivers up to £1,500 to have their cars re-sprayed, and many are arguing that they will not be able to afford this and therefore they would lose their livelihoods. Di Mitten, secretary of the town’s branch of the Hackney Carriage association, has said “As far as I know these plans are not happening at the moment. But it’s ridiculous to expect taxi drivers to pay more costs on top of what they do already.” Ms Mitten goes on to argue that as drivers have to pay for licensing fees, taxi insurance, MOTs, and insurance already in order to run their vehicles, even more charges would not be welcome.