Threat to taxi industry
TAXI firms are warning of a mass exodus from the trade if new legislation is brought in by North Somerset Council.
TAXI firms are warning of a 'mass exodus' from the trade if new legislation is brought in by North Somerset Council.
The authority is proposing to carry out six monthly checks on vehicles over five years old, instead of the current annual test.
These tests are priced £133 a time, with the cost of any repairs needed on top, and many taxi firms believe part-time drivers will not be able to afford it.
Taxi companies are warning that many small firms will close and hundreds of drivers will quit the trade if the proposals are given the green light.
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John Curtis, of Avenue Cars in Portishead, said: "This new legislation is going to do even more damage to the part time driver, which is the main stay of the industry.
"We get the majority of our work on a Friday and Saturday night, so we need ten cars to cover that time and many part time drivers cover this period.
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"When they pass this legislation all the part time drivers who help us are no longer going to be able to afford to keep their cars running.
"People won't be able to get home because taxi firms won't have enough drivers.
"It's already incredibly difficult to make a living as a taxi driver and I think many small taxi companies could go out of business.
"It will effect the pub trade too because people will go out in town instead of going to country pubs.
"I've got nothing against cars being tested, it's important. But, if the council wants to test the cars more, they should pay the cost of it."
A driver from Nailsea Cars, who did not wish to be named, said he will be forced to quit after nine years as he will not be able to afford the extra costs.
He said: "There's going to be a mass exodus from the trade because there's very little profit in it as it is. If they bring these regulations in it's going to kill the business off."
The new regulations were suggested in a report to North Somerset Council's planning and regulatory committee after a review revealed that the current policies for taxi and private licensing needed updating.
Scores of drivers turned up to the meeting on Wednesday to register their disapproval and many drivers said they had not been consulted about the proposals.
Committee members agreed to defer a decision until their next meeting on March 27 to enable firms to have their say.
To register your opinion visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk
What do you think about the new proposals? Write to the Times, 32 Waterloo Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1LW.