Decision to turn down a planned mini-cab office in Peterborough described as ‘victory for common sense’
The decision to turn down a planned mini-cab office in Peterborough has been described as a ‘victory for common sense’.
More than 100 Hackney cab owners celebrated as Peterborough City Council rejected an application for the new mini-cab office on a site in the city centre at a meeting on Tuesday (June 29). Speaking on behalf of the owner drivers, who had staged an angry demonstration outside the council offices at Sand Martin House while the meeting was taking place, was Cllr Mohammed Jamil who had attended the meeting as ward councillor. Cllr Jamil said: “I think that common sense has prevailed for these Hackney cab drivers.
“There is no need to have so many taxi offices in a city centre, especially such a small city centre like we have in Peterborough.
“The effect of this mini-cab office right opposite an existing Hackney carriage rank and just meters from another rank, would have decimated the trade for these drivers.
“If you use modern technology – apps and smart phones – then there is simply no need for you to be in the city centre.
“You can literally be located anywhere, get the message on the app system that a cab is required, then come in, pick up where the cab is needed, and head-off out again – it really is as simple as that.
“So, I’m very glad that the Planning Committee saw sense, and I think we got the right result today.”
During the debate on the matter, Cllr Christian Hogg asked: “We are constantly pushing for more updated technology to improve air quality in our city, so why is it that we should be asked to approve a new mini-cab office in the city centre when apps and smart phones would provide exactly the same service if that office was located outside of the city centre?
“Surely by having this in Westgate, we would only be encouraging more pollution?”
Cllr Dennis Jones had concerned about the location, saying: “As I understand it this proposed office is right opposite an existing Hackney-carriage rank, and the loading-bay outside this new office would only have spaces for four taxis to pull up.
“What happens if a lorry is already there loading or unloading? Will the taxis simply circle the bay until it is free? No, what will happen is that they will pull up further down the road on the double yellow lines and let their passenger get in there.
“But what if that passenger is disabled? The potential for danger is enormous and I don’t think we need this proposed office in the location of the city centre when technology now would allow it to be just as efficient if it were out of the centre.”
The angry Hackney carriage drivers were protesting against an application from Gujjar Investments Limited, to set up a minicab office in Westgate, at the site of the former Maplin store, opposite Beales, which had been recommended for approval by planning officers.
While they were protesting, a parking officer from Peterborough City Council went round and gave a £70 parking ticket to more than 80 of the taxis that were parked (on double yellow lines) outside the new council offices, the PT understands the drivers were subsequently told the tickets would be rescinded.
Cllr Jamil added: “My colleague and I, Cllr Shaz Nawaz, are already working on that – its silly that the council felt the need for this gesture which to my mind just causes unnecessary paperwork on behalf of officers and unnecessary stress on behalf of the drivers.
“These are owner-drivers that the city council know have just gone through extremely tough times during COVID-19.
“It costs these drivers over £67,000 a year just to keep their Hackney carriages on the road, and some of them are genuinely struggling.
“We heard from the Peterborough Hackney Driver’s Federation in the meeting that it is all well and good having the city council declare they want cleaner vehicles, and electric cabs, but they cost a lot of money. How are these drivers supposed to invest in that kind of green technology, when their livelihood is threatened in this way?
“For a year and a half now, they’ve had such a big loss to their earnings, and to put this on top of them today, well, I thought the actions of our parking enforcement officers was pointless, mindless and frankly shameless.
“These are people who have kept Peterborough going for the past year or more, and this is stress they don’t need – so, yes, we will see what we can do to get these parking tickets rescinded.”
There were huge cheers from the Hackney cab drivers when they were told the result of the Planning Committee decision.