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Grantham taxi drivers say new council regulation to reduce emissions is 'punishing' them

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Taxi drivers in Grantham have expressed concerns that new regulations attempting to reduce emissions will “price them out of the market”.

South Kesteven District Council introduced new regulations across the district which require taxis to be no less than five years old when they are newly registered, with Grantham taxi drivers voicing their opposition.

Tim Harrison, owner of Autocabs, believes that taxi firms are an “easy target” and that the new regulations are “punishing” over 200 drivers that operate in the area after a difficult 18 months for the industry as a result of the pandemic.

Autocabs, Market Place, Grantham. (53922324)
Autocabs, Market Place, Grantham. (53922324)

He said: “They’re not bothered with buses, not bothered with lorries, not bothered with everything else, but because the taxi trade are a nice, easy target, governed completely by the council, they could bring this in.

“We’ve just had the worst two years in the trade. If they’d waited until next March, all seven year old vehicles are Euro 6 compliant anyway.

“I’ve just had it. You’ve got vehicles that can come and trade in Grantham from North Kesteven, that aren’t governed by this. Local taxi drivers who earn and spend their money in Grantham are being punished.”

Tim also raised concerns that anyone needing to add a new vehicle would encounter extra costs buying a car that is two years newer or buy a vehicle that has done “an extortionate amount of mileage needing more maintenance and higher running costs and more likely to be less reliable”.

He continued: “This extra cost comes directly following what, in my 29 years in the trade, has been the worst year for the drivers, operators and companies.

“The difference it makes to me personally is I provide vehicles for drivers that can’t afford their own and they either rent it off me or drive at a percentage.

“I’ve lost 12 drivers this year. Three of them have gone to work for a delivery firm because they don’t have the hassle.”

Chris Boswell, owner of CB Taxis, said: “As the owner of CB Taxis and owner of seven vehicles myself and also a further 10 owner drivers, myself and the owner drivers are also in strong disapproval of this new regulation as a five year old car is pricing us out of the market and is only going to increase fares for the customers if these changes were to remain in place.

“This new policy will not help to improve air quality at all as a newer car does not equal lower emissions.

“What would make more sense is to introduce an emissions value so as cars that are higher polluting can’t be used, rather than to impact the financials of every driver within South Kesteven.”

Grantham mother-of-three, Melissa Darcey, raised concerns on the issue as a resident “who relies on taxis heavily due to illness and not having a car”.

She continued: “I feel like I am placed on a curfew of an evening. Just a simple trip to see a close friend is now met with a fear of not being able to get home safely at night due to no taxis being available and even more so when the street lights are off at night time too.”

Melissa also highlighted the importance of taxis as the future of Grantham Hospital’s A&E department remains under consultation.

She said: “Our local community relies heavily on our taxi firms to get us to and from other hospitals or clinics dotted around the county.”

SKDC cabinet member for corporate governance and licensing, Councillor Linda Wootten (Con), said: “This policy applies across the whole of the district and requires a vehicle to be less than five years-old at its first registration only.

“Once licensed, the registration can continue to be renewed until the vehicle reaches 10 years-old, or 12 years for ultra-low and zero emissions vehicles and wheelchair accessible vehicles.

“The procedure for the policy change was robust. It was considered by both the licensing committee and environment overview and scrutiny committee and was agreed by cabinet in January. It was also subject to public consultation.

“Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles are an important part of local transport provision and it is not unusual for councils to take steps such as this to promote public safety, reduce environmental impact and increase public confidence.

“I am satisfied that correct governance has been carried out and that the policy reflects that.”

Figures published by the Department for Transport in June this year show that the number of licensed taxi and private hire vehicles in England had decreased from 15.9 per cent to 251,100 since 2020, and that there were 343,800 driver licences in 2021 - a decrease of 5.7 per cent compared to the previous year, which can largely be attributed to the pandemic.

  • What do you think? Is this an unfair regulation on local taxi drivers? Do you find it difficult to find a taxi? Email us at comment@granthamjournal.co.uk

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