Taxis set to be banished from Wisbech Horsefair in £75,000 relocation scheme

PUBLISHED: 09:04 27 November 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 02 June 2010

Story by: ELAINE KING TAXIS will be forced to circle like vultures around the Freedom Bridge roundabout if a £75,000 scheme to banish taxis from Wisbech Horsefair goes ahead, claims taxi chief Dave Patrick. A decision over the fate of the Wisbech taxi r

Story by: ELAINE KING

TAXIS will be forced to "circle like vultures" around the Freedom Bridge roundabout if a £75,000 scheme to banish taxis from Wisbech Horsefair goes ahead, claims taxi chief Dave Patrick.

A decision over the fate of the Wisbech taxi rank is due to be made on Wednesday -Fenland District Council has drawn up a list of three options, and NONE of those is to leave things as they are.

Councillors on the licensing committee will be asked to choose their favourite option from these schemes.

Retain the existing rank for two taxis in the Horsefair bus station and close the ten taxi waiting area, with extra ranks being installed across the town.

Create a new rank for eight taxis in East Place with an integrated drop off areas and waiting area for three vehicles on Canal Street.

Retain the existing rank for two taxis on the Horsefair and create additional ranks in Canal Street and East Place.

"I believe councillors should have been given the option to allow the status quo to remain," said Mr Patrick, chairman of the Wisbech Hackney Carriage Drivers' Association, "because of the support from the Chamber of Commerce, Wisbech Town Council, and the fact that we have collected 900 signatures saying we should remain as we are.

"Fenland District Council has taken no notice of their comments, by not including the option for us to remain as we are.

"If there are just two ranks at the Horsefair, taxis will be circling like vultures, trying to get one of those spaces."

The public consultation period over plans to move the taxi rank from the Horsefair bus station to Canal Street and East Road ended on November 20.

A report to councillors says the use of the bus station has risen "to unsustainable levels" and there is "an unacceptable risk to people and vehicles."

The council's scheme to move the taxi rank has received "positive feedback" from Cambridgeshire County Council's Quality Bus Partnership.

Bus operators Norfolk Green have "strongly supported" the relocation plan saying current arrangements are dangerous and highlighting "a degree of conflict" between buses and taxis. Drivers report taxis' poor driving on a weekly basis, it says, and wants to see taxis and buses separated.

The Wisbech Hackney Carriage Drivers' Association wants the taxi rank to remain where it is; it says a move would have an adverse effect on elderly, disabled and vulnerable clients, and that customers waiting for a taxi near the Case pub could be intimidated.

The Case pub has also objected to the proposal, concerned that the proposed new rank could become "a flashpoint" for trouble. The managing agents for the Horsefair shopping centre also object, warning of traffic congestion in Canal Street, and problems of anti-social behaviour.

One consultee has called the proposed rank changes as "ludicrous," and says "the council is making life more difficult for the populous and have made a huge mistake".

Other people objecting to the scheme have highlighted problems of safety, several said there is no public safety issue, and one says the current taxi rank site is an ideal location.

The licensing committee will also be asked to support plans for a penalty point system for hackney carriage and private hire drivers; with both their decisions being forwarded to the council's cabinet.

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