Plans to introduce mandatory card payment systems into Merseyside’s taxis put on hold after driver b

Plans to introduce mandatory card payment systems into Merseyside’s hackney carriage taxis has been deferred by the council's licensing committee.

The decision came after members of Unite trade union opposed one particular aspect of the proposal. The new laws would require all hackney drivers to mount a card payment facility to the back of the cab - costing them between £100 and £280 depending on if they chose to buy a printer with the machine. The city council said that the reasoning behind the fixed terminals is so passengers would have "complete control" over their card - preventing taxi drivers from being accused of taking incorrect or extra payments.

Taxi drivers have taken particular offence to those comments, saying it suggested they were "robbers". Drivers have argued that fixed terminals would be easy for passengers to vandalise, and stressed that the expensive cost of the device would leave them out of pocket.

They suggested a hand-held terminal which they could hand back to paying customers as being the best option.

Tom Mcintyre, a Unite officer said: "We see it [card payments] as a positive. It's something that should have been coming for a long time. Everybody knows kids don't carry cash these days, we have a major challenge. Where we have a problem is having it in the back of the cab.

"In Liverpool we carry a lot of young girls with prams, little kids sitting in the back, touching the buttons. "We want this to work. We can implement this in six months, most of the trade are willing to do this. The biggest bugbear is putting this in the back."

A report by Licensing officers about the implications of having card payment facilities in the front of the taxi is now being prepared on request.

The city council's original proposals stated that all hackney carriage drivers would face having to pay out £280 for a card payment facility and printer within six months of being asked. As reported in TaxiPoint, drivers had claimed tthey were being "bullied" into making costly decisons for facilities that were being imposed on them. Latest proposals up for debate required all hackney carriages to introduce a card payment facility without a printer within 12 months, which would cost between £100 and £150.

A brief explanation to why council officers were not in favour of terminals being kept in the front said:"The reason we don't want [the card facility] in the front is historically, drivers have taken the card [by hand] to take payments, What we don't want is the drivers to be accused of taking money from the cards, double payments, or more money off the card."

But taxi driver and Unite member Paul James hit back and said: "With all due respect I take offence at the implication all taxi drivers are robbers. It's not happening in London. "

As reported by the Liverpool Echo, Malcolm Kennedy, Chair of the licensing committee, said the only way forward was to agree to the proposals or ask for a new report considering the implications of allowing the card machine to be kept in the front. Committee members agreed that the best option was to put together the new report, while expressing sympathy with cab drivers over their concerns.

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