Bury St Edmunds taxi drivers slam West Suffolk Council's proposed taxi changes
Proposed policy changes for taxis in West Suffolk will ‘put drivers out of business’, according to those in the trade.
West Suffolk Council is currently running a public consultation on a range of livery options should the proposal to introduce a new single licensing area be adopted.
There are three consultation options for hackney taxi liveries, one of which could see taxis have to be black with yellow boot and bonnet wrap arounds. Other options being considered are for taxis to have no livery at all or to have black vehicles with wrap arounds in a colour other than yellow.
Daniel Bird, who has been a taxi driver in Bury St Edmunds for 18 years, called the changes ‘ridiculous’.
“It’s putting people out of business. The fact that St Edmundsbury merged with Forest Heath shouldn’t mean that we now have to shell out at least £300 to make our cars look the same as Newmarket taxis,” he said.
He said the extra expense, which the council said would only come when drivers buy a new car, was particularly sore because of other challenges facing taxi drivers.
“Everyone is already struggling because the council has given out far too many taxi licences in the last five years. The number of drivers has gone from 26 to about 90, which means some of us are sitting at the rank all day and taking home just £3.80,” he said.
“We all have bills and families to pay for and this is just another expense we don’t need.
“It’s putting pressure on us to the point
that a lot of us are thinking of giving it up completely.”
Cllr Andy Drummond, West Suffolk cabinet member for planning and regulatory, said: “Let me assure this driver and his colleagues that this is genuine consultation including some changes which drivers themselves have suggested.
“We are using a survey and special meetings to ask the taxi trade their views on how best to align the two current licensing areas and I hope this driver will take part.”
Comments on the plans can be made at westsuffolk.gov.uk/consultation until March 9.
More by this authorRhoda Morrison