Portsmouth cabbies toast victory as licence rules over vehicles is relaxed
CABBIES fighting for their livelihoods toasted a victory after licensing rules were relaxed to help them earn a crust.
Portsmouth taxi drivers packed into a hotly contested licensing meeting at Guildhall to see what their fate would be following plans to change rules for taxis and hackney carriages in the city, which were first mooted last month.
Currently rules in Portsmouth state a car cannot be more than three years old when it starts being used as a taxi. Rules also say a vehicle can no longer be licensed at all once it is eight years old – raising fears many cars will be forced off the road.
But the committee agreed to make changes by allowing cars up to four years old to be used as a taxi while also agreeing to not boycott them from the road as soon as they are eight years old – as long as they are able to pass a mechanical test indefinitely.
Taxi driver fears over them being squeezed out of pocket were heard at the meeting. Viv Young, who has a share in Portsmouth cab firm City Wide Taxis, said: ‘There are about 1,200 licensed cars in Pompey that do about 7.5 million journeys a year – but how many complaints do we get? Very few.
‘We have to deal with problems such as people throwing bricks and eggs at our cars, people wearing high-heeled shoes which can all affect the standard of the car. We are a taxi service not a limousine service.
‘We had a car fail a test after having a puncture on a Friday which meant he was not allowed on the road for the weekend. That can’t be right.’
He added: ‘You as a licensing committee have the opportunity to relax the licence and allow more funds to come into the Pompey coffers without sacrificing safety.’
Meanwhile, Bruce Hall, general manager of Aqua Cars, said: ‘We are competing with hundreds of out-of-town taxis who are licensed elsewhere and then come here and take our work. If you want to keep supporting Pompey trades you need to support us.'
Councillors were sympathetic to the plight of drivers. Leader of the council Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘If a car passes its safety test it should pass no matter what its age.’
Councillor Jason Fazackarley, responding to concerns over air pollution, said: ‘To penalise taxi drivers is unfair. The number of taxis (failing emissions test) is likely to be small and they only represent a small number of cars in the city.’
Members also agreed that any vehicle to be used under a temporary licence shall be under two years old.
All vehicles will also be subject to guidance from the Public Authority Transport Network with discretion to be used on vehicle testing.