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Cabbies' call on licences

PUBLISHED: 11:28 30 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:59 01 August 2010

TAXI drivers in Lowestoft and Waveney are appealing to the district council to reduce the number of licences being issued after fears were raised that lives could be put at risk.

TAXI drivers in Lowestoft and Waveney are appealing to the district council to reduce the number of licences being issued after fears were raised that lives could be put at risk.

Representatives of the Waveney District Council Hackney Taxi Drivers' Association made their plea to this month's licensing committee but their request was turned down by councillors.

At the moment there are 135 licensed Hackney carriages in Waveney which compares to just 51 in the neighbouring Suffolk Coastal district.

“The council just doesn't seem bothered that every time a new plate is given out it is taking work away from the rest of us.

“There are not enough ranks to support the volume of taxis in our area which means it's getting very difficult to find some where to park

“This is affecting our livelihood,” said Brian Arlow, the association's chairman.

Mr Arlow was backed by fellow taxi driver Barry Baxter who has been driving a cab in the area for more than 25 years.

“In all my years as a taxi driver I have never known a situation as bad as this,” he said.

“Because there are so many taxis in the area many drivers are being forced to work longer hours and this is a very dangerous situation.

“We have already had a fatal accident involving a taxi driver in another part of the country because he was having to work at least 14 hours a day to earn a living and we don't want this happening here,” said Mr Baxter.

The taxi drivers point out that it is within the council's power to put a limit on the number of Hackney licenses it issues.

“We do not want to see any existing taxi drivers deprived of a licence but ask that the present number is capped.

“New licenses could be issued by the council when existing ones become vacant,” said Mr Baxter.

The problem is so bad that there are too many taxis for the ranks in Lowestoft and many taxis are forced to wait for fares outside designated waiting areas.

“This problem is particularly bad at nights and if a taxi is damaged in an accident while queuing outside a rank it will lead to insurance problems,” said Mr Arlow.

A spokesman for Waveney District Council said: “The council has never had a policy of limiting the numbers of Hackney licensed vehicles. This policy is in line with the recent guidance issued by the Department of Transport.

“Additionally, we must consider the needs of the travelling public and it is the council's view that there remains a demand for Hackney cabs which would not be served by the placing of a restriction.”

Meanwhile taxi drivers in Waveney are being encouraged to join the taxi drivers' association so that it has a stronger voice and are urged to contact existing members for more details.

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