Following a fiery debate, Swindon Council have voted to allow passengers to travel in the front seat of hackney carriage taxis.
Councillors were set to put a stop to front seat passengers, stressing the partition was in place to protect both passenger and driver, but many hackney carriage drivers said they wanted the option to fill all seats that the vehicle had.
A meeting was called to debate the rule and eventually the drivers who had attended went away happy.
Councillors voted to allow them to carry fares in the front seat. The authority’s licensing manager Kathryn Ashton had advised against such a change. She said: “The partition is there as a safety measure to keep both passengers and driver secure.”
She highlighted that taxi licences only covered the amount of seats available in the rear of the vehicle. She added: "We have licensed a taxi for the number of seats in the back, and it isn’t lawful to carry more passengers, for whatever type of journey, than the plate lists."
As reported on the Swindon Advertiser, Ms Ashton made it clear that if the allowance of front seat passengers was agreed then it would have to apply to all hackney carriages with no exceptions, stressing that many drivers on a Friday or Saturday night don't want front seat passengers.
But drivers were so in favour of allowing passengers to ride upfront that eventually councillors voted by seven to one with two abstentions, to allow all hackney carriages to carry passengers in the front seat on any type of journey, pre-booked or not.
Image: Source; Geograph
Image: Author; Brian Robert Marshall