Taxi rank show down for Ely- licensing committee of East Cambridgeshire Council to decide on extra spaces issue

Market Street, Ely, Taxi rank.

Market Street, Ely, Taxi rank. - Credit: Archant

A taxi rank show down is on the cards as councillors and drivers battle to come up with a solution for extra parking bays in the city centre.

Councillors are against an idea to turn two 30-minute parking slots into taxi ranks in front of Thing Me Bobs in Market Street.

Taxi drivers, however, are in favour.

Councillors worry it will mean losing the ability to quickly pop to nearby shops and banks.

A meeting of the licensing committee of East Cambridgeshire District Council will try and resolve the issue tomorrow (Wednesday.

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.

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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 in the city centre and eight spaces at Ely railway station for drivers who pay an additional fee for a license to park there.