No cap on town’s cabs

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COUNCILLORS rejected a bid by taxi drivers to place a cap on the number of cabs serving Spalding.

South Holland District Council’s licensing committee discussed a plea from drivers to introduce a limit in the number of Hackney carriages it grants a licence to protect the firms who currently trade in the town.

Norman Parish, of A Team Taxis in Spalding, lodged the plan with the council and warned that small companies could be driven out of business without a cap.

Committee chairman Malcolm Chandler, portfolio holder for regulatory services, said members felt:

lthere was insufficient evidence in the taxi drivers’ submission

lthat the cost of consulting taxi drivers and customers in the district was too high. According to another authority that had done it, it was likely to land the authority with a bill of about £15,000

lthat the cap could stifle business and stop new firms

lthat taxis have to be licensed for the whole district and so a cap due to high numbers in Spalding could have an adverse affect elsewhere in the district.

Coun Chandler said: “It did take some serious consideration and I have to say that should they come back with more substantial evidence then we are open to look at it again. The taxi drivers do provide a service but as a council our duty is to the community as a whole as well as looking after the people who provide that service.

“We might have faced some legal challenges if we had said ‘you can’t have a taxi in Long Sutton because there are too many in Spalding’ for example.”

Coun Chandler said the taxi numbers in Spalding had now risen to 41, from 28 in March, which he feels shows there is demand that businesses can capitalise on – particularly anyone looking to go self-employed after losing their job in the recession.

Coun Chandler added: “If someone should find themselves out of work and have a suitable vehicle then becoming a licensed taxi driver is a good opportunity.

“There was no evidence to suggest that there was too many at the moment.”

Before the meeting Mr Parish said he could be forced to sell his taxi, which cost £30,000, because there are not enough fares to go around.

In his letter, sent to the council in March, he proposed that 30 taxis would be sufficient for Spalding. The letter was signed by 16 other drivers.

Mr Parish said he did not wish to comment on the committee’s decision, but stood by his previous remarks.