Smart taxi cab plan approved

PUBLISHED: 13:50 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 13:23 04 May 2010

Cabby Kevin McCarthy.

Cabby Kevin McCarthy.

GO-AHEAD cabbie Kevin McCarthy s Smart idea for a new fleet of taxis on the streets of Ely proved a winner with councillors. They gave a unanimous thumbs-up to the project which could lead to the first fleet of Smart car cabs in Europe. Now council office

GO-AHEAD cabbie Kevin McCarthy's Smart idea for a new fleet of taxis on the streets of Ely proved a winner with councillors.

They gave a unanimous thumbs-up to the project which could lead to the first fleet of Smart car cabs in Europe.

Now council officers must amend the by-laws covering taxis to allow Kevin to run the two-seater cars which are a favourite with former British racing champion Stirling Moss.

Kevin, 46, of New Barns Avenue, Ely, hopes to introduce his first Smart car taxi to passengers this summer.

If it proves successful, he has ambitious plans to run a fleet of five in the city and a further 50 in Cambridge as an alternative to taxi bikes.

Kevin believes there is a market for the cars because around 80 per cent of his journeys involve carrying a single fare-paying passenger.

"The councillors were unanimous in their verdict and it was a real boost," said Kevin. "They came out of their committee meeting to take a look at the Smart car and a few sat in it. I put a wheelchair in the back and showed them there was still space for luggage."

Licensing committee member Cllr Patricia Pleydell who is also chairman of Ely and District Osteoporosis Society, said she found the Smart car comfortable.

Cllr Pleydell, who suffers from a fractured spine due to osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones, said: "It's very easy to get into and I think Smart car taxis are a very good idea. There's plenty of space for shopping or luggage."

East Cambridgeshire District Council officers had recommended that members of its licensing committee reject the idea when they met on Wednesday.

They claimed changing the by-laws would leave them £1,000 out of pocket for advertising charges and could mean introducing a separate meter charge.

But councillors backed Kevin's plans, deciding that there was no need for a separate meter charge.

Officers were urged to amend the by-laws within three months to allow the environmentally friendly cars with their 698cc engines to be licensed.

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