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Taxi drivers frustrated at ‘ridiculous’ rank move

13/04/2013

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A demonstration was held in Dalton Square last week in protest against a“ridiculous” decision to move the city’s taxi rank there.

Hackney cab drivers have reacted with frustration and anger after the county council decided to relocate the rank for two years while sewer works take place at the bus station.

Drivers say there have been five collisions on the cobbled area of Dalton Square in less than a week, and fares have plummeted because “no-one wants to get a taxi from Dalton Square”.

They also say that no risk assessment has been carried out for the new rank, and that the signage is inadequate.

Taxi driver Kevin Chamberlain said: “There just aren’t enough spaces there and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

“They’ve put us in totally the wrong place.

“Everyone in the trade is in agreement that we should have been moved somewhere closer to the bus station.

“Enough is enough, the whole thing is just ridiculous.”

Ward coun Dave Brookes said: “We’ve struggled to find another site that’s suitable. “It’s very difficult, but if what is there is dangerous, then county would be wise to think again.”

Coun Jonathan Dixon, who was at the demonstration on Friday to talk to drivers said: “It’s very chaotic.

“There’s a problem here that the county and city councils need to look at.”

Mr Chamberlain said the company he is part of, OneACab, had rented the Butterfield Street car park near the bus station, so that his disabled passengers could still get a taxi there.

But the city council said the move would need planning permission before it considered whether it should be designated as a rank, and has asked the company to move back to Dalton Square.

Taxi driver John Aldred said: “They should have moved us to Church Street in the first place.

“We’ve had nothing but problems with the city council’s licensing department for the last three years, it’s time something was done.”

Mark Cullinan, chief executive, Lancaster City Council said: “We have been informed of a number of alleged collisions in Dalton Square.

“The safety of the rank is a matter for the county council and it has always been its intention to monitor the rank and liaise closely with United Utilities and Lancaster City Council licensing department and, where necessary, make any adjustments to ensure the rank runs safely.”

Taxi drivers said that a meeting with the city and county councils and United Utilities in Lancaster on Wednesday failed to address any of their issues. They have now set up an email address for members of the public to contact them to let them know their views. The address is taxislancaster@gmail.com

Lancaster City and Lancashire County Council’s released a joint statement on Thursday.

It said: “Representatives from Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Constabulary and United Utilities recently met with representatives from the district’s taxi traders following the first week of United Utilities’ major improvement works in the city centre.

“The meeting was held as part of the planned review process that had been agreed following the temporary relocation of the bus station taxi rank to Dalton Square.

“The meeting was very constructive and actions were agreed to look at ways of improving traffic movement and safety in Dalton Square and the potential for temporarily increasing taxi rank provision during certain hours at two other city centre locations.

“It was also agreed to reconsider a proposal to provide a phone link between the bus station and Dalton Square taxi rank would be revisited.

“All parties agreed that the opportunity to review was useful and would continue during the period of works in the city centre.”

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