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Licensing watchdogs to restrict taxi numbers



Click here to read on the Gazette website

A HIKE in the number of Hackney carriage drivers on South Tyneside roads has been ruled out.

Council bosses recently carried out a survey, questioning more than 600 drivers, customers and local firms, which revealed people in the borough believe they get a high level of service from the existing licensed taxi fleet.

The vast majority of customers – 70 per cent – also said they booked a taxi over the telephone, with just over three per cent picking one up from ranks and one per cent flagging down a cab.

As a result of the findings, members of next week’s South Tyneside Council licensing and regulatory committee will be recommended to continue to restrict the number of Hackney carriage drivers – those taxis that can be hailed or hired from a rank.

That number should be retained at the current level of 239, councillors will be recommended to agree.

A report to the committee, from David Cramond, the council’s corporate director for economic regeneration, said: “Hackney carriages can be flagged down on the public highway or hired at taxi ranks.

“Private vehicles must be pre-booked.

“In essence, the council can only refuse to grant a Hackney carriage licence where it is satisfied there is already a significant number operating within the borough.

“South Tyneside has chosen to operate a restricted system since 1987, with an upper limit now set at 239.

“The results of the survey confirm there is no unmet demand for Hackney carriages within South Tyneside and that taxi usage has steadily declined over the years.”

The report has been generally welcomed by Paul Pearce, chairman of South Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association.


But he has expressed concern over the potential impact of new government equality legislation, which could require as many as 35 per cent of borough vehicles to be wheelchair accessible.

In South Tyneside, 11 per cent – 24 vehicles – meet that criteria.

A report to the committee says the current level of wheelchair accessible vehicles is “sufficient to meet the current need”.

Now, in a bid to address the legislation, it is planned that all borough Hackney carriage licences returned should be re-allocated to a vehicle with wheelchair access or adaptations for passengers requiring other access needs.

The latest moves come soon after the borough’s Hackney Carriage Association was allowed to raise its price tariffs.

That led to the cost of a of a three-mile journey rising from £6 to £7, and a one-mile journey going up from £3 to £3.40.

The committee is to meet on Friday, May 31, from 10am.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.

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