Updated: Sep 4
(Image credit: Newcastle City Council)
After a period of delay due to a dispute with drivers, plans to rebrand Newcastle's taxis in a black and white livery have been revived by Newcastle City Council.
The proposal aims to increase the safety and security of passengers, particularly vulnerable women, by making official taxis easily distinguishable from unlicensed vehicles.
The original plan, to add a white strip to the bonnets of black cabs, met resistance from drivers who argued that it would be a waste of taxpayer money and an additional financial burden on them for maintenance costs. However, with support from the city's street pastors and organisations devoted to preventing violence against women, the unaltered plans are now ready to be presented to councillors for final approval next week.
The chosen black and white colour scheme mirrors the iconic colours of Newcastle United Football Club and is intended to enhance the visibility and recognition of licensed taxis throughout the city. This measure also aims to curb the activities of fake taxis that pose a threat to vulnerable individuals seeking safe transportation.
A report presented ahead of the council meeting highlighted the necessity to improve public awareness and recognition of licensed hackney carriages as a distinguishable brand. It also detailed the evidence base of police investigations linking unlicensed private cars to sexual assault incidents. Recent operations by the police in Newcastle's city centre resulted in 80 interventions and the safeguarding of 34 potential victims who fell prey to unlicensed vehicles.
To support the implementation of the new livery, the council plans to provide a £100 grant to each of the 597 licensed Hackney Carriage taxi drivers in Newcastle. However, concerns have been raised by drivers regarding the regularity of replacing the white vinyl wrapping, which may require additional expenses.
In addition to the rebranding, licensed taxis will be required to display red council crests on the front doors and have a taxi sign on the roof that is white at the front and red at the rear. Private hire vehicles, which operate by prior booking, will not be subject to the new colour scheme but will need to display a green council plate and present operator details on the back passenger doors.
The final decision on the rebranding initiative is expected to be made following the council's upcoming meeting, where the potential benefits of improved safety and recognition will be weighed against the concerns raised by taxi drivers.