Councillor is ‘sorry’ for ‘insult’ to Chichester drivers

Chichester District Council voted on new fees for private hire car drivers at the meeting.
Chichester District Council voted on new fees for private hire car drivers at the meeting.

Private hire car drivers were up in arms this week over an ‘insulting’ comment from the chairman of the licensing committee.

Cllr John Ridd has said he is ‘terribly sorry’ for any offence taken at his remark that drivers are ‘perhaps not the most well-to-do in our society’.

“My statement was intended to be entirely supportive of drivers and to recognise the valuable service that our taxi drivers provide and to note that due to the impact of increases, fees should not be changed without full and thoughtful consideration of comments from drivers themselves as to the potential impact upon their income,” said Mr Ridd.

The councillor received at least two letters this week to express anger at the statement, which appeared in last week’s Observer.

Driver Abigail Exelby wrote that the opinion was ‘highly disrespectful’ and asked the councillor for a formal apology in this paper.

“Many of my colleagues have had successful careers, and a high standard of education. We are in fact highly professional, and regarded highly by our customers.

“In ten years of being within this profession, I have never been so offended.”

The letter concluded that ‘from a councillor and a civil servant, the opinion, and statement is unacceptable’.

Another letter from Starline driver David Harwood seconded the objections raised, adding that the councillor had joined the trap of other politicians who ‘run down their voters’.

Cllr Ridd said there was ‘absolutely 100 per cent no offence meant’ by his words at the start of the meeting to vote on new rates for drivers’ licence fees.

An increase of 33 per cent passed by the committee was branded ‘extortionate’ by Starline Minicabs manager Malcolm Cannon.

The quote from Mr Ridd, as printed in the Observer, read: “When it comes to fees, we are talking about people’s livelihoods, and perhaps not the most well-to-do in our society, but hard-working people, for whom every penny counts...we are concerned that the service does continue, we hope, without disadvantaging any members.”

In a formal statement this week, Mr Ridd said: “I am very sorry if people have misinterpreted what I said at the meeting. Only elements of my introduction of the item at committee were reproduced within the article that was printed and the context of my concerns about the potential impact of increasing costs of all types on drivers was not included.”

Read the original report here.

Get your Chichester Observer newspaper for just 38p per week for a year!

Your Chichester Observer newspaper costs £1.05 each week - BUT if you buy a year’s subscription before June 4, 2016, you can enjoy a massive saving which works out at just 38p an edition.

Subscribe and read your favourite weekly, the Chichester, or Bognor Regis, or Midhurst & Petworth Observer, for 12 months for a one off advance payment of £19.76 - that works out at just 38p a copy for an entire year!

And as a valued subscriber you’ll continue to receive a 20% discount even after the initial 12 month offer has ended.

Once you’ve subscribed we’ll send you dated coupons to use instead of cash when paying for your Observer.

To take advantage of this fantastic offer simply click here and enter the offer code - 277PA-CCO.

Hurry though as offer ends on June 4, 2016.

Terms & Conditions: Offer valid to new customers only when paying by a one off direct debit charge of £19.76. Minimum 12 months subscription. Offer ends Saturday 4th June 2016. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.