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Taxi demos continue in Newcastle as angry cabbies descend on Eldon Square

Angry cabbies have descended on a rank between Haymarket and Eldon Square for the second time in a week as their dispute with Newcastle City Council continues to bubble over. The taxi drivers, who also protested last Thursday, in what was dubbed as "go to work day" are taking the council to task over shrinking rank space, an over subscription of private hire licenses and lack of enforcement. The action was called by the The Newcastle Hackney Carriage Drivers Association in response to the councils lack of action surrounding all of the issues. The council are believed to now be working with the NHCDA in identifying potential rank space. This is tempered by Newcastle City Council stating that they can do nothing about PHV numbers due to the lack of legislation surrounding the issue, echoing many areas across the UK. In an earlier statement by the NHCDA the group said: “The Newcastle Hackney carriage Drivers Association, the main body representing the city’s hackney carriage trade, has decided to exercise the right of all hackney carriage drivers by having a Go to Work Day to highlight the difficulties of having insufficient rank spaces within the city centre. “The hackney carriage trade has suffered serious setbacks as a direct result of Newcastle City Council removing ranks without prior consultation or involvement from drivers. “The recent closure of the taxi rank at The Gate, in particular, has created substantial difficulties for hackney carriage vehicles to move around the city and this is further exacerbated by limited or restricted access through bus lanes and gates. “This, together with the historic closure of ranks, has caused an accumulation of problems and the hackney carriage industry feels that essential driving routes, whilst transporting members of the public, have become complicated and with increased fares, and therefore not in the interests of public safety or convenience. “Hackney carriage drivers are keen to address the problems of insufficient rank spaces provided by Newcastle City Council. “The difficulties of finding spaces which are accessible to members of the public, particularly at weekends, has a direct effect on traffic congestion and traffic flow. “This is also impacted by the numbers of private hire vehicles which illegally park up and ply for hire preventing the hackney carriage trade from legally working. “The numbers of private hire licences issued by the Licensing Department have increased threefold in as many years due to reductions in the criteria for issuing private hire licences. “The city centre, at weekends, is flooded with private hire drivers accepting non pre-booked work and whilst there may be difficulties managing and policing this, the hackney carriage industry firmly believe it is the responsibility of the local authority to prevent this from occurring. “The resulting issues with traffic congestion, public safety, air quality and pollution, which are known agendas for Newcastle City Council, should be tied in with their licensing policies and practices, otherwise their members are being counter-productive. “Whilst the hackney carriage industry recognises and welcomes Newcastle City Council’s plan to further pedestrianise the city centre and increase access to shopping, leisure and tourism, drivers want members of the public to be aware of and able to use a Black Cab as an official emblem of the city and an integral part of the city centre’s transport system.”

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