Taxi group draws up alternative rank plans

Tabrez Khan, chairman of the Hemel Hempstead branch of the Hackney Carriage Taxi Drivers Association.
Tabrez Khan, chairman of the Hemel Hempstead branch of the Hackney Carriage Taxi Drivers Association.

Taxi drivers have drawn up their own proposals for a new rank amid fears that council-led plans could damage trade and even put some out of business.

Initial plans show that Dacorum Borough Council is considering creating 21 taxi ranks that will be dotted across the borough.

It is part of town centre regeneration plans that involves moving the bus station to make way for a new leisure area and creating a bus interchange in Marlowes.

Almost 100 drivers turned out for a public meeting hosted by the local branch of the Hackney Carriage Taxi Drivers Association last Tuesday.

They backed the committee-led proposal for a rank that stretches along Waterhouse Street from Moor End Road to Combe Street, and will accommodate up to 40 cars.

Chairman of the group Tabrez Khan said: “We don’t really want to move but obviously if we have to compromise we are willing to do that provided they put use in a suitable place.”

However, under the council’s possible locations for ranks there are eight planned for the town centre. The one in Waterhouse Street would take just eight vehicles, another in Marlowes would fit six. There would be a further two in Riverside, one in Hillfield Road, Wolsey Road, Marlowes adjacent to the planned Morrisons supermarket and along the market access road.

But the group says this will not work as drivers will simply flock to the busiest rank.

Taxi driver Terry Carrington said: “Taxis are going to go to where the trade is so whatever rank is popular with the public that is where the cars will be and then we will have problems with double parking and blocking access and that is not something we want to do.

“We are being squeezed out.”

The drivers’ group is also calling for the council to carry out a feasibility study to see if there is already sufficient taxi provision in the area.

Mr Khan said: “There are currently 250 plus Hackney carriage drivers within the borough and we feel that it has reached saturation point and therefore something needs to be done otherwise it will cause safety issues within the town.”

Leader of the council Andrew Williams, who attended the meeting, said: “We had the opportunity to discuss the association’s concerns regarding the possible relocation of the rank and the council’s plans.

“We will be consulting the taxi drivers as plans move ahead and we are keen to work with them to find a suitable solution.”