December 2, 2013
The needs of the cab industry aren’t always high on the agenda of local planning authorities.
This times its the taxi trade in Grimsby that’s paying the price for town centre ‘improvements’. But at least they have succeeded in getting their concerns across, as cab drivers staged a “go-slow” protest in response to proposals to close key local ranks.
North East Lincolnshire Council announced the closure of taxi ranks on Victoria Street West and Town Hall Street.
The cab rank closures are a result of plans to face-lift the town centre and have been replaced by a new rank, located on Victoria Street South. But the city’s black cab drivers are up in arms at the move. They fear it will cost them business because of the distance the new rank is situated from the town centre.
Black Cab Protest
Around 10 cabbies started the protest near the town hall and drove through the centre, at 5mph, while beeping their horns. As they made their way through the streets, more cab drivers joined in and eventually brought traffic to a standstill.
Defending the protest taxi driver Colin Wilson claimed that a black cab at the front of the rank had waited for two hours before he had a customer.
Mr. Wilson complained: “Nobody is going to be able to earn money and I can see the town centre grinding to a halt.
“The taxi ranks are constantly full and nobody can move.
“It’s going to have a drastic effect on us drivers. Even if we do get fares the roadworks make it so difficult to get in and out of town.”
The protest came to an end when North East Lincolnshire Council officials requested a meeting with the cab drivers to discuss what could be done to make the new rank move work as smoothly as possible.
It was agreed that the Council would re-open the Town Hall Street rank for the time being and they would put up signs to point the public in the direction of the new cab ranks.
Councillor Andrew De Freitas said he understood why the move had caused so much uproar with the cabbies.
He commented: “The issue really needs to be dealt with immediately.”
“You can’t have these cab drivers struggling to make a living – I have a lot of sympathy for these guys.”
Head of Highways at North East Lincolnshire Council, Marcus Asquith, commented: “The relocation of taxi ranks is part of the major Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) developments taking place across Grimsby town centre.
“As with any project of this size, there are bound to be times of change and inconvenience and we will try to minimise disruption wherever we can.
“We will continue to work with the cab drivers in the town centre to keep them informed of progress. And I would like to thank them for their patience during these essential improvement works.”