Hackney carriage drivers in Chichester want a cap

Hackney carriage drivers in Chichester have hit back at the district council for its decision not to cap the number of drivers earning a living on the ranks.

Chichester driver Jim Rendle said the livelihoods of existing hackney carriage drivers were being threatened because of an increase in the number of drivers and said a cap was needed.

The turnover of drivers was low, with more drivers applying to work the ranks than leaving and some drivers travelling many miles to work in Chichester, he added.

Mr Rendle, who was responding to a report of the licensing and enforcement committee published in the Observer on November 17, said it was drivers who would have to foot the bill for a survey into restricting numbers – and not the council.

“We were told that if we wanted a survey we had to pay for it so it wouldn’t be an unnecessary expense for the council,” said Mr Rendle.

“Councillor Barrett said there might be some more taxis needed and Councillor Budge said, ‘it is going too far to cap someone else’s livelihood’, but what about our livelihood?

“We are the ones sitting outside trying to make a living. I sat for two-and-a-half hours one day the other week with no business. In two days I made thirty quid over nine, ten hours. Clearly there isn’t the work to go round; we can’t afford to have more drivers.

“As a hackney carriage driver you are not allowed to have a car which is more than five years old, and you have it MOTed twice a year.

“That is all good stuff, but it’s all extra expense for us. The price of a badge and licence plate has gone up and the fares haven’t gone up since 2008. With the price of fuel the way it is going, it’s just making harder and harder for us to make a living.

“We have to stay out longer to make the same amount of money, and tired drivers won’t be the safest drivers.

“Some people are doing double shifts to make the money.”

Mr Rendle said the hackney carriage community also wanted to find out where all the money they paid to the council went, whether it went into one big pot or went specifically on enforcement.

He also suggested CDC’s knowledge test for drivers was far too easy, which resulted in more drivers coming on board, and he questioned having councillors from places such as Rogate and Fernhurst deciding on taxi issues when there were no ranks in the north of the district.

The job had become much more dangerous as well, with more problems being encountered with people refusing to pay fares, he added.

At last month’s committee meeting members heard the council had never limited the number of licences, with the current level at 57. Senior technical officer Ian Smith told the meeting the slice of the cake had been getting smaller and smaller, with drivers working longer hours, and he had some safety concerns because drivers were working longer.