November 30, 2009
Two more major English cities have broken ranks with ‘London conditions’ and welcomed Cab Direct’s Peugeot E7 taxi onto their hackney fleets.
The decisions by Liverpool and Norwich come in the wake of Cab Direct’s landmark victory at High Court in July. The Court ruling showed that the ‘turning circle’ acts as a barrier to free trade and that fleets made up entirely of TX and One80 cabs are not accessible for all wheelchair users.
Encouraged by overwhelming support for the E7 taxi from local trade representatives Norwich City Council Regulatory Committee concluded that, given the High Court ruling, there were no longer any reasonable grounds on which to refuse to license the purpose-built E7 cab.
Norwich solicitor Ms. Yvonne Blake announced that the committee now recognised that a class of wheelchair users could not safely access the existing London-style cabs.
Ms Blake added that the committee was satisfied that there was no evidence of safety concerns with the Peugeot E7 taxi. As a result, the retention of the turning circle and others conditions that prevented the E7 being licensed could not be legally justified.
Two days later Liverpool Licensing Committee met to reconsider Cab Direct’s application to license the E7 cab. The committee’s decision in March last year to reject the vehicle was quashed by the successful Judicial Review at the High Court, resulting in a £200,000 award of costs against Liverpool City Council.
Committee Chairman Malcolm Kelly announced: “The committee now recognises that a class of wheelchair users cannot safely access the existing Liverpool hackney fleet, as a result of the dimensions and design of the current (LTI) vehicles.
“The committee also now recognises that the E7 taxi would be a valuable addition to the fleet. Although the E7 does not meet the current Conditions of Fitness, following the Court’s ruling there is insufficient evidence on health and safety grounds to justify this breach of the European Treaty.”
Cllr Kelly concluded: “Following MR. Justice Blake’s judgement the committee now accepts that successful usage of the E7 elsewhere provides compelling evidence that also allays any other concerns we may have had.”
Last Ditch Attempt
Senior LTI directors attended both meetings in a last-ditch attempt to keep the status quo – and with it their monopoly over new cab sales in both cities. However their arguments were resoundingly dismissed by legal opinion for both Councils.
Delighted Norwich cabbie, Paddy Keenaghan, commented: “This has been a long time coming but in the end it’s very simple really – if people want to buy the old-style cabs they still can, whereas many of us have at long last won the right for an alternative choice of taxi.”
Cab Direct reports a strong surge of sales in the wake of the decisions. Chairman Gerry Facenna said: “Despite LTI’s best efforts to tell councils that the High Court ruling can be ignored these decisions show that the law is the law and has to be followed.
“We will now be pushing ahead with the ever-reducing handful of authorities which still stick with ‘London conditions’.”