There has been an on-going controversy concerning transforming four spaces at a taxi rank in Redditch into short-term parking bays, especially as taxi drivers are complaining that there are too little parking spaces for their vehicles in the first place. Currently, there are only thirty seven spaces for over two hundred hackney carriages in the Redditch area, and the introduction of speed humps on Unicorn Hill has already reduced the number of parking spaces for taxi drivers.
The taxi rank is based on Unicorn Hill which is in the town centre of Redditch, and whilst the Redditch borough Council voted to keep the spaces available for taxis, county highway chiefs have claimed that it is actually Worcestershire County Council that have the responsibility for roads and the regulations on them, meaning that they could still legally go ahead with their plans.
They have claimed that the plans are to improve trade on Unicorn Hill, and that the scheme will only be introduced on a twelve month basis. The scheme will mean that the four parking spaces will be available for shoppers to park in for twenty or thirty minutes with no return for four hours, and then will revert back to a taxi rank in the evenings. Councillor Brandon Clayton, who represents the town centre on the County Council has not approved of the borough council voting against the new scheme and said: “I can’t believe they have done this, it’s madness. The County Council are saying they are open for business and yet the borough council is saying we are against business. It’s sending out a mixed message.
However, Councillor Andy Fry, chairman of the borough council’s licensing committee said that they did not support the plan as they could find little evidence that the spaces were needed more for short term parking than for taxi drivers. He said: “When I looked there were spaces on the taxi rank but there were also spaces in the short stay parking so the demand has not been proven to us. We read all the paperwork, some of us went and had a look around, we heard from businesses on Unicorn Hill and the taxi drivers’ representative and we made the decision based on that. It’s wrong for a councillor to say I didn’t like that and I didn’t think that was right because it was done right.”
Taxi drivers will be sure to continue to petition to keep the spaces in the taxi rank, as if they are changed into parking spaces it will affect the amount of fares they can take in each shift, meaning it will eat into their income and potentially their taxi insurance payments.