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CAB DRIVER SHORTAGES: Eastbourne MP calls on council to reconsider new taxi policy proposals

Image credit: Caroline Ansell MP

Residents of Eastbourne are facing rising difficulties finding available taxi services as drivers leave the trade due to new regulations and a strained relationship with the council's licensing department, so claims the local MP.

Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne, and the town's taxi representative, Jeff Defalco, have called for a new consultation on the trade in the town to address these issues.

Mandatory CCTV, bureaucracy, and local knowledge tests for drivers are causing dissatisfaction among the town's taxi drivers. A survey conducted by Ansell found that almost half of the residents in Eastbourne wait over an hour for a taxi due to driver shortages.

In an effort to relieve the taxi shortage, Lewes District Council has launched a six-week taxi consultation, increasing pressure on Eastbourne's council to take action. The House of Commons Library research conducted by Caroline Ansell revealed that only 15 local authorities out of 276 in England enforced mandatory CCTV requirements for taxis and 14 for private hire vehicles, highlighting Eastbourne's council as an outlier.

The proposed consultation aims to address the issues faced by taxi drivers and improve the quality of service for residents in Eastbourne. The council hopes to cultivate a healthier relationship with taxi drivers, ensuring a smoother and more efficient licensing process.

Ansell MP said: “I want to urge the borough council to recognise the loss of taxi drivers is a huge blow to residents and visitors alike and it is potentially putting people in danger late at night.

“There are many issues at play and I have today askes the council to sit down with me and Jeff as the taxi representatives before the next licensing committee meeting.

“But it is crucial a new consultation is launched so that everyone can have their say on what is a good way forward that keeps people safe in the cars and allows them to be safe by actually being able to call a cab when they need one late at night or to go to a hospital appointment.

“The consultation can also address another key ask: to better understand the roll out of CCTV to find a proper evidence base and impact assessment of this decision, especially when other local councils are not implementing it.”

Taxi representative Jeff Defalco said: “Lewes Council has announced that the mandatory CCTV licence condition is returning to full public consultation, along with much-needed changes to testing to enable the trade to attract drivers and bring Lewes in line with other progressive authorities around the country.

“We, the Eastbourne taxi/private hire operators, would kindly request the same be afforded to Eastbourne by the council.

“This CCTV condition is brought into stark contrast when one looks at local authorities in the entirety of the UK, most of whom have significantly higher crime rates than Eastbourne; only 15 have mandated CCTV in Private Hire vehicles."


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