Taxi drivers seek decision on capping numbers

Taxi driver Ian Wortherspoon wants a decision on licence capping
Taxi driver Ian Wortherspoon wants a decision on licence capping

Two taxi drivers have hit out at Falkirk Council for not making a decision on capping taxi numbers.

The local authority ordered an independent expert to report on demand for taxis to decide if councillors should cap the number of licences handed out. The council paid half the cost with the taxi trade picking up the rest of the bill.

Currently there are 444 operator licences.

The survey showed there is no un-met demand in the Falkirk area and that there are more taxis per head of population in Falkirk than any of its neighbouring council areas. Falkirk has one cab per 300 people while Midlothian has one per 1500 and Clackmannanshire one per 700 residents.

At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s environment and community safety committee, it was decided to note the results of the survey and defer a decision on the capping of plates to allow a public consultation to go ahead and for the first meeting of the taxi and private hire forum to be held.

Ian Wotherspoon from Bainsford, who has been driving taxis for 15 years, said the council must cap the number of licences.

He said: “There are drivers having to work 16-hour shifts just to make enough to feed their families. There are just too many taxis and not enough customers.

“This survey shows that, unanimously, drivers and taxi operators want a cap. So why are we still waiting? This survey was ordered to be carried out a year ago and there is still no action. We just want a decision. Even if they decide not to cap, at least there would be an end to the process.”

Roy Kerr has been driving for 25 years and he agrees a cap would be beneficial.

“It feels like this has been dragging on and on. The committee decided to wait for a public consultation to go ahead but they have done a consultation before. Action needs to be taken so drivers can make a decent living.”

Committee convenor Councillor Craig R. Martin, said the council was confident it was doing the right thing and said a public consultation on taxis carried out in 2010 centred around the service, not on taxi numbers.

He added: “The decision on whether to cap the number of taxi licences is a very important one and it is something that will affect many people.

“There was a cap imposed in the 1990s and as a result there were not enough taxis to go around. We want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again and that the people of Falkirk get the service they deserve. The only way to make sure of this is to take our time and carry out a public consultation.”

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