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Cheltenham Festival attendees urged to use official taxi ranks or book PHVs in advance

Image credit: Cheltenham Borough Council

As the Cheltenham Festival, a four-day jump racing event, is set to commence next week from Tuesday 12 March to Friday 15 March, local councils are issuing important advice to attendees.


Cheltenham Borough Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council's licensing teams are strongly advising festival attendees to use a taxi or pre-book private hire vehicles to avoid unnecessary risks.

This guidance comes in anticipation of the increased demand for transportation services during the event.

Furthermore, private hire drivers have been warned by the council’s licensing team. They are urged to come to Cheltenham this week solely for the purpose of fulfilling legitimate pre-bookings. The councils have announced that they will conduct test purchasing operations to identify drivers illegally plying for hire. Offenders could face fines up to £1,000 and risk losing their licence.


For those unable to book in advance, racegoers are advised to use authorised taxi ranks or flag down only Cheltenham Borough Council licensed hackney carriages. It's important to note that by law, all vehicles operating at taxi ranks or on the streets in Cheltenham must hold a licence issued by Cheltenham Borough Council. This measure aims to ensure safety and compliance during the festival's busy period.


Cllr Martin Horwood, member for Customer Regulatory Services, said: ‘’We expect tens of thousands of visitors to Cheltenham for the races and there is a variety of travel options. Safety remains paramount and we want to make sure that racegoers know where the taxi ranks are and that private hire vehicles must be booked in advance and cannot be hailed in the street.


“The council continues to take a zero tolerance approach to unlawful taxi activity. Private hire vehicle drivers should not be tempted to try and ply for hire and take cash work on the side. Our enforcement officers will continue to carry out spot checks and monitor activity during major race meets. The council will again seek to prosecute any unsafe or unlicensed taxis chancing their luck during the 2024 Cheltenham Festival.’’


Jason Kirkwood, licensing team leader at Cheltenham Borough Council, said: ‘’We see scenarios each year with members of the public who’ve had a great day and now just want to get home or back to the hotel. We see private-hire drivers trying their luck and our message is clear, book ahead – it’s your best bet. Without a booking for a private hire vehicle the insurance that protect passengers will often be invalid and the driver is acting illegally. We want people to get home safely – please use a taxi or a booked private hire vehicle.


‘’Our team will be actively checking licensed vehicles and drivers working during race week with the help from colleagues at Gloucestershire Constabulary, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, South Glos Council, Wolverhampton Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council.’’


Tewkesbury Borough Council’s lead member for clean and green environment, Cllr Sarah Hands, said: “We're delighted to work together with Cheltenham Borough Council to ensure the safety of racegoers during the Cheltenham Festival. Pre-booking private hire vehicles is not just a convenience, it's a crucial safety measure. Racegoers are urged to plan ahead and book their rides to and from the event to avoid unnecessary risks. Let's make sure everyone enjoys the festival responsibly and gets home safely." 

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