Two taxi groups have joined together to submit legal papers to the High Court today, challenging not only the new Bishopsgate Bus Gate scheme that excludes licensed black cabs during peak times, but also a review of the entire London Streetspace plans.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) and United Trade Action Group (UTAG) has taken the decision to challenge both the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) over its new Streetspace plans as more key roads are closed to motorists and licensed taxis.
The new traffic restrictions on Bishopsgate and Gracechurch Street in the City of London are in operation on weekdays between 7am and 7pm and will only allow access through the gates to buses and cyclists.
Whilst the London transport regulator assures that access for emergency services and disabled people will be maintained, disability groups and disabled travellers have raised serious concerns.
Transport for All (TfA), an organisation for disabled and older people dedicated to championing the rights to travel with freedom and independence in London, has described the plans as “incredibly disappointing”.
The disability group published a statement which conveyed their disappointment at not being consulted before the changes were designed, and that no provision was given to wheelchair accessible taxis and Blue Badge holders despite assurances from TfL.
In July concerns about taxi access for disabled users were first raised. Will Norman, Mayor of London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, reassured disabled users that “the plans will allow taxi access for all”.
London’s licensed taxi drivers and fleet owners have invested nearly £200million into 3,500 zero-emission vehicles to clean up the capital’s poor air quality since 2018, as requested by the Mayor of London. It is feared that the ban will force disabled users and the general public to pay far higher metered fares and face increased journey times.
UTAG representative, Trevor Merralls and Angela Clarkson, released a statement today saying: “We can now tell you that in addition to the Bishopsgate challenge, UTAG and LTDA have today lodged a request in the High Court for permission to Judicially Review (JR) the entire London Streetspace Plan.”
“Our QC, Barrister and Instructing Solicitor have worked ceaselessly to prepare a compelling legal challenge against the plan and the impact it would have on us, and more importantly our passengers, who depend on our service.
“We cannot divulge the legal arguments cited in this JR but can say they are forceful, apposite and well considered.”
Steve McNamara, LTDA General Secretary, said yesterday: “The biggest single threat to our long-term future and financial wellbeing is anything that limits or restricts our ability to move around and take our customers where they want to go, by the shortest, quickest and most direct route.
“Throughout the current crisis we have tried every possible way to work with TfL, the Mayor and the various local authorities to ensure and protect our access."
McNamara added: “Unfortunately TfL have ignored all common sense, logic and argument and have excluded taxis from thoroughfare access to Bishopsgate. We will be able to access most parts of Bishopsgate, albeit via some very tortuous and convoluted routes, but a journey from say, London Bridge to Shoreditch, will necessitate a lengthy tour of Aldgate or the City, take much longer and make a taxi journey uneconomic for many.
“The only option now available to us is to challenge TfL, over our exclusion, in the High Court. This is a very expensive and complicated exercise, and despite all the trade groups being asked to contribute to this crucial challenge only the LTDA and UTAG will be funding the action.”