New Peterborough taxi office will ‘break drivers struggling from Covid’ - LETTER

You may be aware, as printed in your previous edition, that council planning officers have recommended approval for planning proposals for a taxi office on the former Maplins site on Westgate.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:59 am

A decision is to be made by the Planning and Environmental Committee via a vote on 29th June at 13.30hrs at the council offices.

I would just like to bring to your attention the financial hardship this will bring to many drivers.

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There are plans for a new taxi cab office in Westgate
There are plans for a new taxi cab office in Westgate

The drivers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic waiting for up to 1hr, and even longer in many cases, between fares just to keep the city, and their livelihoods, going.

They’ve risked their own lives, as well as that of their own families, in order to provide the vital services to get key workers to and from their places of employment.

The drivers have barely recovered from the effects of the lockdowns and this new taxi office will break them.

We have seen black cab numbers dwindle from over 200 to barely over 100 due to planning consent given to A2B taxis opposite the bus station rank, and the problems that has caused as well as the pandemic.

The drivers have had to abandon the bus station taxi rank due to the detrimental impact of the taxi office across the road, i.e. lack of work.

We will see a repeat of this should planning consent be given for a taxi office to operate right outside the Westgate taxi rank.

This, in turn, would negatively impact the services provided to wheelchair users coming out of Queensgate as drivers would have moved to another, more viable, rank.

The black cabs provide a vital service to the disabled people who rely on this service.

Disabled users will have to travel further in all weathers to another rank to get a cab.

Additionally, this application would also open the floodgates for more mini cab offices to apply for planning in the city centre.

This will cause anti-social behaviour in the nighttime, added to noise, air and traffic pollution.

As a city that is working towards being a ‘green’ city, granting such a license would be a step in the wrong direction. This is particularly significant given that many Hackney drivers have invested in greener vehicles - very expensive electric cabs. Where is the incentive for others to follow suit when they face further loss of income?

The taxi licensing team themselves have voiced their concerns and opposed this application, and the bigger picture would eventually, and inevitably, see the black cabs being wiped out altogether.

Tahir Chaudhary

Co chair PETERBOROUGH HACKNEY DRIVER’S FEDERATION