Group of cab drivers call for restrictions to be relaxed so they can use customised vans, people carriers and minibuses
What qualifies as a traditional black cab could be set for a radical change in Wrexham.
A group of taxi drivers, spearheaded by local cabbie Barry Wilson, have got together to ask Wrexham Council to relax its vehicle restrictions so they can use customised vans, people carriers and minibuses.
Currently Hackney carriages, which are usually black and can pick fares up on the street, are restricted to a select number of models that are specifically factory built for the taxi trade.
But some of the county’s drivers are calling for a change because they argue that these types of vehicles are “expensive and unreliable”.
Those opposed to the idea fear introducing it could create hostility in the trade as many drivers have spent a lot of cash to comply with the existing rules.
Members of the council’s Environmental Licensing Committee are due to meet on Monday, January 26, to make a decision on the proposal.
A report to councillors said: “Mr Wilson and associates are in favour of a relaxation of the process currently applied to the licensing of Hackney vehicles.
“The request is being made because they feel that the current specification is restrictive and the type of vehicles on the current list are expensive and unreliable.
“They are aware that a relaxation would allow certain makes of vehicle to be licensed as either a Hackney or as a Private Hire Vehicle and this would mena that vehicles would look very similar.
“In that instance the group favour a colour coding system. All Hackneys being black in colour.”
A survey of Hackney license holders in Wrexham carried out by the local authority brought a mixed response.
Those opposed to the idea said it would cause confusion for customers, create “considerable friction” and “animosity” in the trade, as many have spent large amounts of money to meet the current restrictions, and increase congestion at taxi ranks.
Drivers responding favourably to the proposal said the move would be more “cost effective” and would allow them to use vehicles that are more beneficial to disabled people.
Mr Wilson said in his survey: “I feel the list is outdated and the current vehicles on the list are expensive to maintain.”
The current approved vehicles are Austin FX4, Metrocabs, Peugeot Expert, Citroen Dispatch and Fiat Scudo.
The group are asking for the likes of a Ford Transit Custom, Renault NX8, Mercedes Vito, Volkswagen Eurocab and Nissan Primastar to be considered as potential models to qualify as a Hackney carriage.
Similar requests to relax the restrictions went before the committee in 2003 and 2006 and were both rejected.
Source: Daily Post