East Cambs and Fenland taxi drivers protest as they hand community transport funding ‘dossier’ to Cambridgeshire County Council

Taxi and coach operators protest, Shire Hall, Cambridge. Picture: Steve Williams.

Taxi and coach operators protest, Shire Hall, Cambridge. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Allegations levelled by East Cambs and Fenland taxi drivers over community transport funding in the county are to be investigated.

Around 20 drivers from across the area lobbied county councillors at Shire Hall, Cambridge on Tuesday where they presented a 38 page report by a private investigation firm.

Cambridgeshire Bus, Coach and Taxi Association has funded a £1,000 report by Woodgate Investigations into concerns that FACT (Fenland Association for Community Transport) and community transport groups including Ely and Soham Community Transport (EACT) and Huntingdonshire Association for Community Transport (HACT) have been given an unfair commercial advantage over members of the association.

Association leader Dave Humphrey, who has led a three-and-a-half-year campaign to highlight what he terms “the unfairness of the way county council transport contracts are awarded to community transport groups” presented the document to Councillor Ian Bates, chairman of the economic and environment committee and Graham Hughes, executive director of economy, transport and environment.

Mr Hughes said the documents will now be looked at and discussed internally and they will report back on their findings.

Taxi drivers and firms from Fenland and the Ely area helped fund the report following the launch of the association in September last year.

Councillor Paul Clapp said: “If corruption has been carried out by, officers should be sacked and so should councillors.”

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Councillor Alan Lay branded the document as “dynamite” and said “the allegations must be thoroughly investigated”.

Gregory Page, director of Woodcote Investigations, whose credentials include being a retired detective with Cambridgeshire police, said in summary of his findings: “It’s my professional opinion the evidence is supportive of a far more in-depth investigation than can be identified to have previously taken place.

“Only such an investigation would give the transparency the documented evidence indicates is needed.”

Wisbech taxi driver, parish councillor Dave Patrick said: “This is a very comprehensive report and the findings now need to be verified as either true or false.”

In the past Mr Humphrey working with two or three fellow taxi drivers have been dismissed as simply being “vexatious” and have been accused of running an “unwarranted and unsubstantiated vendetta”.

Mr Humphrey said: “We were dismissed as just a couple of taxi drivers, that’s why we have employed a professional investigator.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “The council has been made aware of some potentially serious allegations regarding the misuse of grant funding. “Whilst, we the council, have confidence in the diligence and propriety of its officers, given the nature of the allegations the information provided is currently under review to establish whether further action is warranted.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.”