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Cabbies’ fury at plans to lift the cap on hackney licence numbers
YORK’S taxi ranks could become swamped and congestion could get worse under plans to lift the cap on hackney licence numbers, licensing bosses have warned.
National proposals for a shake-up of taxi licensing include a move to strip councils of the power to decide how many hackney plates they issue.
York has a limit of 183 but has a waiting list of 196, meaning deregulation could more than double the number of taxis on the streets. A new hackney licence costs £107.
Councillors will discuss the proposals today, but local officials and hackney drivers have criticised the plans, drawn up by The Law Commission.
Bill Brolly, secretary of the Independent Taxi Association, which represents York hackney drivers, said removing the cap was “an absolutely dreadful idea”.
He said: “We can’t understand the thinking behind it and we believe it’s a complete and utter waste of time. It’s been tried in other cities which have then reverted to restricting the number of licences.
“If this was introduced in York, drivers would not be able to do the job because they would not be able to earn a living. They would have to start work at 8am and work until the early hours of the next day because the competition would just be too great.”
He said York’s ranks were already full and said lifting the limit on numbers would hit drivers who had invested heavily in their vehicles.
Lesley Cooke, City of York Council ’s licensing manager, has drafted a response to The Law Commission’s consultation, which will be considered by councillors today.
Ms Cooke said in her response: “We currently have 183 taxis licensed to operate. If we no longer restricted the number, this would more than double just by people on the waiting list. The city’s ranks would not be able to cope with the number of vehicles.”
The report said taxi restrictions created “a number of issues”, including licences changing hands for large amounts of money and confusion through licence-owners renting out their vehicle or permit.
But she said taking licence-issuing powers away from councils would add to congestion in York and “greatly affect” already-severe air quality problems, due to increased emissions.
She said the council already carried out an “unmet-demand” survey every three years, to help determine whether more licences were needed. She said if restrictions were removed “transitional measures” should be introduced, such as staggering the release of new licences.
The Law Commission’s other proposals include national safety standards for hackney and private-hire vehicles, disability awareness training for drivers, wedding and funeral cars having the same standards as regular taxis and giving councils the power to create or remove “taxi zones”.
• The city council’s gambling, licensing and regulatory committee will debate the issue at 4pm today at York’s Guildhall.