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Making our taxis safer

Better protection for taxi drivers and their passengers was on the agenda at a meeting between Herefordshire Council and representatives of the county’s taxi association.

A number of incidents in recent months have prompted a review of safety measures which have resulted in the council looking to phase in the requirement for all taxis to have CCTV systems installed over the next three years.

This requirement will possibly work along with the introduction of marshals to oversee, and better control, the Commercial Road taxi ranks in Hereford city centre on Friday and Saturday nights.

“The council is responsible for administering an effective taxi licensing service which protects not only the travelling public but the drivers as well,” said Cllr Adrian Blackshaw, cabinet member for highways and transportation.

“Taxi drivers want their passengers to feel safe and these measures will bring added reassurance to their customers. Therefore we want to work with the taxi drivers association to bring in these measures and have begun discussions with the association as we can achieve much more by working in partnership with the drivers,” added Cllr Blackshaw.

The Council is also consulting on this year’s taxi license fees. The legislation which covers the council’s responsibilities dictates that the authority is not allowed to make a profit from taxi licenses although it can be cost neutral. This means that the council, due to current budget pressures, will stop subsidising this sector.

Following a decision taken by the council last year in response to the funding shortfall caused by cuts in grants from central government, the authority is looking to cut this subsidy to bring taxi licensing into line with other statutory licensing functions it has.

“We’re making our costs as reasonable as possible and have reviewed the way we provide the service to reduce costs.

“However, this will unfortunately mean that some fees for the drivers and operators may have to rise, although the fares for the people in Herefordshire should remain the same. Driver and operator fees are proposed to increase, in a number of cases, but they are still less than a number of councils in neighbouring counties.”

The council has begun talking to the county’s 650 drivers and 40 operators regarding the proposals.

“We believe these proposals are in the interests of both the drivers and local residents who make use of the taxis. We believe the public will value the extra reassurance these measures will bring” added Cllr Blackshaw.