Taxi driver speaks out about lack of parking spaces in Ely city centre
PUBLISHED: 16:35 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:35 16 May 2017
A taxi driver is angry that councillors are not supporting an idea for two extra parking ranks in the city centre despite firms reporting a lack of pick up and drop off points.
The council meets tomorrow to discuss whether to turn two 30-minute parking slots outside Thing Me Bobs into spaces for taxis.
William Noble, of Noble Cars, said the council was happy to inflate licence and plates charges to an extra £130 per vehicle per year, but not happy to give anything in return.
There are 121 licensed taxis so the revenue from the latest inflation is £15,730 a year.
William said: “I am only a small firm with seven cars. For me that is an extra £1,000 a year - for nothing extra.
“Turning the two parking spaces into taxi parking has been the talk of the ranks for weeks and yet only 22 taxi drivers have written in to officially support it.
“I can assure you there are more drivers than that who agree we need extra ranks.
“I could take every space in Ely alone never mind all the other firms.
“Ely is expanding, taxis are needed, there isn’t any forward planning on this. There isn’t even taxi ranks set aside at the new leisure village, what is that about?!” he said.
There is a licensing enforcement officer in the city to make sure they do not contravene regulations, he said, yet nothing being done to help them run their businesses by providing the extra parking space they need.
The taxi rank show down is on the cards for tomorrow (Wednesday 17) when councillors and drivers battle to come up with a solution in a meeting of the licensing committee of East Cambridgeshire District Council.
Some councillors worry that losing the two parking bays will mean less chance for the public to quickly pop to nearby shops and banks.
So far 13 councillors and three parish councils have written to object, 22 taxi drivers are in favour and 33 members of the public have commented.
There are 39 people in favour, 23 against and nine neutral responses.
Stewart Broome, senior licensing officer at East Cambs, said: “Market Street has become widely regarded as the main transport hub of the city.
“It is a vibrant part of the city’s night time economy, with customers making their way to this location after a night out.
“The current arrangements have historically caused congestion to accumulate the bend of Market Street and Newnham Street, which has resulted in less buses being unable to get through and footpath users having difficulty crossing the road between waiting taxis.
“In light of increased enforcement by licensing officers, relating to parking on the bend of Market Street, the taxi trade requested an increase in number of rank spaces available.
“Rank provision has not been reviewed for a number of years,” he added.
However in a series of letters to the council one resident, Donna Wallis, said: “These would be better served as disabled bays.”
James Dening said: “This extension is unnecessary and reduces the ability to nip into town and park for 10 to 20 minutes. Please don’t damage that.”
Little Downham, Haddenham and Littleport Parish council oppose the plans as do a selection of 13 district, city and county councillors.
Councillor Joshua Schumann said: “I believe that the vitality of some of the small independent shops also hinge on people being able to park in this location for a short time.
“I cannot see the benefit of increasing this taxi rank as I have never seen a demand from users or the necessity to stack up more taxis in this location.”
County and district councillor Bill Hunt said: “Village residents pop into Ely many times in the week and need to park for a few minutes.
“This move if adopted would in my view harm the viability of city centre shops and businesses.”
• There are 121 licensed taxis in the area with two ranks comprising up to 10 spaces city centre and eight spaces at Ely railway station where drivers have to pay an additional license fee to use them.
• A taxi licence was £70 a year but is now £105 a year.
• A taxi plate was £140 a year but is now £235 a year.