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Liverpool cabbies are predicting the outbreak of a “taxi war” after a Merseyside taxi giant announced it had opened a new office in the heart of the city centre.
In a statement on its website, Sefton-registered Delta Taxis said it had started a mini call centre in the heart of the city centre, raising fears among Liverpool taxi drivers that they could lose even more trade to what they have traditionally regarded as an “out-of-town” firms.
At present, bookings accepted by Delta at its main Bootle call centre can only go to private hire drivers and cars licensed in Sefton, while bookings at the city centre office will only be dispatched to Liverpool-licensed drivers.
But under a Deregulation Bill now going through Parliament, taxi and minicab firms will be able to subcontract business to other firms. This means Delta would be able to dispatch bookings from either its Bootle or Liverpool office, to drivers and cars from both fleets.
Last year, hackney and private hire drivers said they were losing up to 70% of their business to firms licensed outside the city boundary.
They said the latest move would put their livelihoods under even greater strain.
Jimmy Bradley, spokesman for the Liverpool Taxi Alliance – which supports the city’s black cab and private hire drivers – claimed they had been badly let down by Liverpool City Council.
Mr Bradley added: “By allowing Delta to open this office in the city centre, they’re creating the circumstances for a taxi war in Liverpool.
“We have paid millions of pounds in licensing fees over the last 25 years, and this comes as a total kick in the teeth.”
Mr Bradley said meetings were taking place among the city’s taxi-driving community to decide on their next course of action.
Cllr Steve Radford, leader of the city’s Liberal group who sits on the council’s licensing committee, said his main concern about the Deregulation Bill was its implications for public safety as it would allow bookings to be subcontracted to other firms, rather than a firm the customer knew and trusted.
He added: “I don’t have a problem with appropriate competition, but I do have concerns about public safety.”