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Dismayed Edinburgh taxi drivers returning to work find rank replaced with ‘PLANT BEDS’

Image credit: Unite Edinburgh Cab Section (Twitter)

Dismayed Edinburgh taxi drivers looking to restart working in the trade after a dismal lockdown, were astonished to find their once busy taxi rank replaced by ‘plant beds’.

The planters were introduced as part of Edinburgh City Council’s (ECC) ‘Spaces for People’ program. ECC were awarded over £5million from Sustrans to make temporary changes to its streets as lockdown eases. According to ECC the aim is to make it easier and safer for people to move around the streets and create extra space for walking, cycling and wheelchairs.

The measure also aims to support businesses re-opening by helping them adapt to operating on pavements and providing extra space to queue at a safe distance.

Irate cabbies however argue that the changes do nothing to help the taxi industry recover from what has been a devastating pandemic financially for the sector.

The move to take away vital rank space comes at a time when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced details of further relaxation of restrictions across Scotland.

As of Monday 26 April, hospitality venues such as cafés, pubs and restaurants have reopened, along with tourist accommodation. Non-essential retail outlets and close contact services such as beauty salons have also reopened, in addition to indoor attractions and public buildings such as galleries, museums and libraries.

In a post on social media, Unite Edinburgh Cab Branch shared a photo of a key central taxi rank located outside The Ivy restaurant on St Andrew Square. It shows the rank had been replaced by planters, tables and chairs. The message accompanying the photo asked Edinburgh City Council and councillors to comment on ‘why the taxi rank has been taken over by plant beds’.

Following the post, a spokesperson for Unite Edinburgh Cab Branch said: "They have taken away half the space at this rank and not asked us. With the downturn in trade we need everything in our arsenal to recover. When they surveyed the rank obviously it would have been quiet, nothing was open then. There is a notice up at the rank of a parking bay suspension order.

"Only two cars can use at a time with these big planters. I know more than 2 cars need to access this rank at a time now with things opening up again. If we double park near waiting to access the rank we could get a ticket. A parking warden threatened me with one yesterday.

"We’ve really struggled this past year. I’ve been in the trade fifteen years now and I own my vehicle. It’s crazy, when you think that our licencing fees pay for maintenance of the ranks. We just feel we are being walked over again with this.

"And we have serious concerns it could happen in other places. There’s a rank up on George IV bridge which has been removed under spaces for people. We would ask these planters to be removed. We need access to help service the public, we can provide safe travel and need our ranks to be able to do so.”


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