Taxi Drivers and Local Councils

It seems as though not a day goes by where we don’t see a news story about taxi drivers feeling frustrated with their respective…

Image of Town HallIt seems as though not a day goes by where we don’t see a news story about taxi drivers feeling frustrated with their respective local councils. The main cause of this is the fact that local councils have a lot of power when it comes to the taxi services in their constituencies, and sometimes taxi drivers don’t agree with the legislation set out by their MPs. This is an issue that has been raging on for years and even decades in some areas, which is why GoTaxi has chosen to look into it in more detail…


Your Local Council

Local authorities have a number of responsibilities to their constituents, which means that sometimes they have to make unpopular decisions. For example, your local council may install a new traffic system in order to reduce the amount of emissions and therefore pollution in the area, however for taxi drivers this may mean spending longer in traffic. It is sometimes therefore hard for local councils to find a balance which will make everyone happy, especially if they haven’t properly researched their proposals before implementing them.

As a taxi driver it is therefore important for you to regularly research your council’s proposals and potentially even have regular contact with them. In general, councils have a period where their constituents can voice their opinions about a certain proposal before it goes into effect, however if you miss this period it is often hard for you to have your opinion heard. Remember, it only takes a few minutes to check what’s happening with your local council but it could take a huge amount of time to get them to change a policy that’s already gone into effect.

Protests against Local Councils

It is not uncommon for taxi drivers to protest against councils and the way in which they manage their constituencies with ‘drive slows’. Drive slows are a form of protest where taxi drivers purposely drive slowly or even stop in busy streets in order to show MPs not only their anger but also how important they are to the community. In general, drive slows are frowned upon by both local authorities and the public alike as they cause a large amount of disruption and are sometimes even described as a vindictive tactic.

Another way in which taxi drivers can protest against their local governments is to go on strike – something that taxi drivers in Guildford are currently preparing to do. According to Mark Rostron, secretary of the Guildford Hackney Association (GHA), drivers have been in talks with Guildford Borough Council for years in order to tackle illegal touting and soliciting, provide additional taxi rank space and “stop overcharging for taxi licences”. However, the GHA feel that their needs are not being met and are therefore planning to strike.

In response to the GHA’s remarks Councillor Spooner said that the council have already created a Taxi Advisory Group, widened the taxi rank on North Street and have taken action against illegal touting. He added: “Over the last nine months we have held meetings with representatives of GHA to identify priority issues they would like to see addressed. We then took action to resolve these. In making changes, we need to take into account the views of passengers and the general public as well as GHA, drivers who are not members of the association, private hire drivers and operators.

“In respect of additional taxi rank spaces, a great deal of work has been completed and possible additional spaces identified. The implementation timetable is not entirely within our control. We hope that additional spaces will be available during 2015.”

Working with your Local Council

As previously mentioned, some taxi drivers use the fact that they are an important part of their community to protest against their local councils, however it could be more beneficial if they used it to work with them instead. Taxi drivers are a cornerstone of any village, town or city, which means that they have a valuable insight into the ways in which a number of features could be improved in their local areas.

If you would like to find out more about your local council make sure you attend their next public meeting or search for taxi associations in your area that work towards creating a mutually beneficial relationship between their members and local authorities.

Photo by Alexander P Kapp / CC BY-SA 2.0

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