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Most of Luton's current black taxis would be wiped out if new cab emissions policy was introduced

Image credit : Pixabay

The majority of Luton's hackney carriage taxis would fail to meet a new vehicle emissions policy if implemented by the council.

Discussions over the move to introduce a new vehicle emissions requirement for licensed hackney carriage taxis took place revealing that out of the 165 cabs currently licensed by the council, only 35 would be likely to meet the requirements.

Taxi drivers have called on the council to consider allowing an extra choice of vehicle for them to purchase due to the high cost of the current options available to them.

The Luton hackney carriage fleet is ageing, according to a report to the borough council's administration and regulation committee, but members are concerned over the standard of vehicles if more were to be introduced as acceptable for usage. More details surrounding the possible alternatives have been requested by members of the committee.

Strategic regulatory manager public protection, Tony Ireland, said: "Conditions are in place already for the iconic black cab and the van conversions.

"The proposal in front of you looks to introduce a smaller or what we're calling a mid-range size of vehicle, which will continue to be 100 per cent wheelchair accessible.

"There are some limitations. The main change is some of the smaller or middle size range of vehicles may be unable to accommodate the bulkhead screen.

"The conditions would potentially allow, if the proprietor wants that, for a passenger to sit next to the driver, which isn't currently permitted.

"A smaller vehicle would have fewer passenger seats obviously and would load a wheelchair from the back rather than the side."

Liberal Democrat Sundon Park councillor, Clive Mead, asked to see photographs of the type of vehicles being proposed and how they would be modified and said he was not willing to make a decision until he done so.

Liberal Democrat Stopsley councillor, David Wynn, said: "I'm extremely concerned about this report for various reasons. Some of these other vehicles won't be recognisable.

"There's nothing to say some of these older polluting vehicles must be taken off the road. Not to do that as part of this report is irresponsible.

"If we're introducing any new rules for taxis or private hire vehicles they should be entirely electric in line with the strategy of this council regarding climate change and emissions.

"I might change my mind if we had the pictures. But this report is reprehensible, backward looking and frankly not very responsible.

"If you compare the taxi situation in Luton to St Albans we're significantly worse. And it's about time we tidied up the taxi trade here to avoid appearing as a second class city."

Mr Ireland replied: "We did look at putting this together with a new emissions policy for the fleet.

"We've brought this forward as 130 vehicles out of 165 would be wiped out by an emissions policy to meet the standard.

"This would allow a lot of these vehicles to be transferred to a newer standard and enable a significant improvement for the trade.

"We realise the massive impact it would have for the drivers and for families if we wiped out 130 in one go."


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