Cab drivers anger over North Herts licensing decision

A COUNCIL’S decision to stop taxi drivers from operating under a zonal scheme has been met with anger amongst those in the trade.

Councillors at a North Herts District Council meeting held last night (Tuesday) have approved a new taxi licensing policy which will mean from next month all drivers of hackney carriage vehicles will no longer have licenses issued in zones - Baldock, Hitchin, Knebworth, Lecthworth GC and Royston.

Instead, licenses will apply throughout the district.

Over 20 people from the industry attended the meeting, with statements read out from three taxi firms asking councillors to reconsider many of the recommendations.

The owner of Tiny Taxis in Hitchin, Melvyn Day, was one of those to speak at the meeting and spoke to The Comet following the decision.

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Mr Day, who has been involved in the trade for over 40 years, said: “I have been a very active member of the trade but for whatever reason there was a very poor response.

“I pleaded with them (NHDC) for it to be referred back and they said no. We made over 50 alterations and only 14 were approved.

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“We now may experience a bit of discontent and arguments between Hitchin and Letchworth companies competing against one another.

“It’s not just the de-zoning though, it’s all the others too. They’ve put it through on the advice of council officers and not those who work in the trade.”

NHDC did consult on several occasions with the Taxi Forum - made up of taxi firms and drivers in the district - but admitted the number of responses had been low.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, Cllr David Barnard said: “The public can’t understand why a cab can’t pick it up from outside their zone so it makes sense.”

The new policy, which follows the Government’s Best Practice Guidance, will take effect from January 7 of next year, for a maximum period of five years.

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