‘Put us at top of town where there’s trade’

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Taxi drivers fear they could lose business under plans to move their town centre rank.

A £2.2 million project to create a new bus interchange in Hemel Hempstead will see the Marlowes rank relocated to Waterhouse Street.

Taxi driver Tony Clarke said: “We don’t really want it to go into Waterhouse Street unless we are right down the end by Riverside, rather than sticking us up by the bus station, which is going to be a complete waste of time.

Vice-chairman of the Dacorum Taxi Committee Luke McIlvaney said: “Our concern with Waterhouse Street is we will be even further from the shops, further for people like old ladies and mothers with children to walk.”

He would also welcome a base close to Riverside but understands that the rank would be at the opposite end of town. He claims that borough council chiefs had previously assured that the rank would not be moved until a leisure base with a cinema was secured.

Dacorum Borough Council is currently seeking a developer to draw up proposals for the scheme, which would incorporate Market Square. Work is anticipated to take place in 2015.

The bus interchange planned for Marlowes and Bridge Street will replace the one in Waterhouse Street and is expected to be up and running by September next year.

Dacorum Borough Council strategic planning and regeneration team leader Nathalie Bateman said a rank site has not yet been identified. She said: “The new sites need to be close to the shopping area and are therefore likely to be along Waterhouse Street in conjunction with a new rank outside Debenhams, which already has planning permission.”

She assured that taxi drivers will be consulted.