Fareham cabbies call for cap on number of licences issued

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HACKNEY cab drivers say their livelihoods are being put at risk unless the council agrees to put a cap on the number of licences it issues.

Fareham Borough Council currently has 233 hackney carriage licences issued in the borough, and says it will only place a cap on creating more if it can be proved that there are too many for the current level of demand.

But the cabbies want numbers capped and stricter rules placed on who can get a licence.

Simon Nelson, chairman of the Fareham hackney association, said: ‘There are simply too many of us.

‘We’ve had a meeting with the council about stopping them issuing plates and it’s going to prove to be very, very difficult. The council is telling us that its hands are tied, and to an extend we understand what they’re saying, but that’s not helping us.

‘I’ve been a taxi driver for 27 years and I’ve never known it as bad as it is now.

‘They’re issuing plates as if they’re confetti and then they come down and chastise us because we’re over-ranking.

‘The guys already here are in a lose/lose situation and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make a living, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these guys are going to have to wrap it up.’

Cllr Dave Whittingham has been backing the cabbies and said: ‘The situation is getting worse and worse. There’s a flaw in the system and I hope we can address it.’

But the council says it removed any cap on hackney carriages a number of years ago to comply with the Transport Act 1985 which states that licensing authorities can only limit licences issued if it can demonstrate that there are too many taxis for the level of demand.

And to do this requires an independent survey costing around £15,000 which would be recoverable from the current hackney carriage fleet.

Chairman of the licensing committee, councillor Pamela Bryant, said: ‘The council currently follows the Department of Transport’s best practice guidance for the issuing of hackney carriage licenses.

‘We are happy to work together with the local taxi association to help ensure that our residents benefit from the best taxi service possible.’