Police in Derby have issued a road closure for the Strand between midnight and 5am every Saturday and Sunday in order to prevent drinkers being hit by cars and taxis. The road is the main route to the Wardwick where many pubs and clubs are based and therefore is often busy on the weekends, and the police are concerned that revellers who are not necessarily paying attention could get injured when crossing the road. However, taxi drivers have criticised the decision and have said that the road closure is costing them thousands of pounds in business, meaning that they are struggling to pay for their taxi insurance and upkeep, as well as losing income.
Chief Inspector Dave Pont has said that the road closure was due to a “tight corner with a restricted view” that if drinkers try to cross could prove dangerous. Taxi drivers have criticised this however and said that the police should protect drinkers instead of closing the road and affecting their businesses. Taxi driver and city councillor Gulfraz Nawaz said that the police were “making the job easier for themselves and not thinking about taxi drivers or shopkeepers. The police stand there and let the drinkers do what they want. They should be stopping them crossing roads when the cars come.”
Private hire taxi companies have claimed that forty per cent of their business comes from the drinkers visiting the bars, and are angered that the city’s yellow Hackney cabs are able to access Wardwick Street via Victoria Street whilst they cannot. Operations manager at Albatross Cars, Faz Mansha said: “We lost thousands of pounds because of the closure last weekend. We have to tell customers to walk to another place to be picked up and, at that time of night, most of them are intoxicated. They see Hackney taxis are able to come down the road and think we’re pulling their leg or get angry.”
However, Chief Inspector Pont has defended his decision and said: “We don’t have the resources to line Wardwick with officers to stop people crossing the road. Between midnight and 5am, there are thousands of people in that area and they are not all drunk. You could have a couple who have come out for a meal and a drink. Why should they be stopped from crossing the road?