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Taxi marshals to go in row over funding


By Melanie Vass

TAXI marshals are set to disappear from Bournemouth’s streets by Christmas, after plans to cover their cost by increasing cab fares were rejected.

A lack of funding means the marshals will no longer be able to patrol the town’s busy Horseshoe Common rank, where they currently try and prevent trouble breaking out between night-time drinkers.

Licensing officers had suggested increasing taxi fees to enable the £1,000 a month marshal service to continue, which would have meant higher fares for customers.

But this sparked protests from taxi drivers and councillors on Bournemouth’s licensing committee ruled against the idea.

Cllr Andrew Morgan, chair of the committee, said: “We felt that it would an unreasonable burden on the taxi trade.

“Drivers are finding it tough enough at the moment without any extra fee to pay for the taxi marshals.

“It would have discriminated between private hire and Hackney carriages and it would have meant that someone leaving a party in Strouden Park, for example, would have had to pay extra to fund marshals at Horseshoe Common when they were not going anywhere near the town centre.”

Driver Paul Sondheim welcomed the decision: “It was ridiculous for them to even contemplate putting an extra fee on our fares when we are in the middle of a recession.

“This is a policing matter, not a matter for taxi drivers. We already pay enough money to the town hall.”

And John Tye, chair of the Bournemouth Taxi Trade Association, agreed: “I’m pleased the board recognised that this is not a taxi trade problem but is about crowd control, public order and public safety.”

Councillors also discussed the possible reopening of St Peter’s Road and Fir Vale Road to try and reduce the pressure on the Horseshoe Common taxi rank.

Their recommendation that this should be considered will go before the next cabinet meeting.

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