December 3, 2015
Hull hackney carriage drivers are considering taking strike action after the council released its plans to move the city’s main taxi rank as part of the UK City of Culture 2017 regeneration project.
Hull City Council issued a letter informing taxi drivers of the proposed plan to move the busy rank from Empress pub to Queen’s Dock Avenue. The rank outside House of Fraser in Ferensway is also under threat and may be removed altogether.
Following talks with the council, prior to receipt of the letter, there was a feeling amongst the drivers that they were in the process of resolving the issue – they are now left feeling let-down by the decision.
Chairman of the Hull Hackney Drivers Association (HHDA), Alan Bradford, said: “We’ve been meeting with the council for about a year now to discuss the plans.
“We thought we had an agreement but now we’ve been told they want to take the ranks away outside the Empress Pub and in Ferensway.
“It just seems like they want to kill off our trade.”
Insufficient Rank Space
If the council proceeds with the plans, it will leave only 14 rank spaces to accommodate the city’s 170 hackney taxi drivers.
The law states that if a rank is full, the taxi driver must move on to the next rank but in Hull, drivers will be left with no choice but to circle the city. The cabbies say this will leave their livelihoods in danger of being destroyed.
Mr Bradford commented: “All it means is that the taxis will be driving round and round in circles. It’s going to completely kill off our livelihoods.
“If our next meeting with the council doesn’t go some way to sorting that, we’ll be going on strike.”
The trade has also discussed the worry over visibility. Drivers feel that the proposed new rank is not in a prime position and that visitors to the city won’t know where they can easily access a cab.
Mr Bradford said: “As taxi drivers, we need to be seen in order to get trade.
“The new location will mean we’re tucked away from everything and that’s really going to hurt us.
“When people come to the city for the first time, taxi drivers will often be the first people someone sees, so the council has asked us to be ‘brand representatives’ for the City of Culture.
“It doesn’t feel like we’re being treated that way at the moment.”
Since the news was announced, taxi drivers from across the city have come together to organise a petition. So far, it has received approximately 120 signatures and it’s hoped that, once circulated to the public, this will increase even further.
A council spokeswoman said: “We’ve been liaising with representatives of the Hull Hackney Drivers Association for over a year in order to discuss the relocation of taxi ranks as part of the city centre transformation project.
“Any options identified to relocate the current rank outside the Empress pub will be reviewed in the coming weeks by representatives of the police, council and the association to ensure any future site is fit for purpose.”