Taxi rank plan rejected

The scrapping of plans for a 24 hour taxi rank on Queen Street Morecambe gets the thumbs up from traders.
The scrapping of plans for a 24 hour taxi rank on Queen Street Morecambe gets the thumbs up from traders.

Plans to turn a busy shopping street into a 24-hour taxi rank have been ditched - after furious complaints from businesses and nearby residents.

A taxi driver group had floated suggestions for 12 on-street taxi rank places to be created on Queen Street in Morecambe, going towards the Joiners Arms to the junction of Central Drive.

But following protests from shopkeepers and residents, councillors have voted unanimously to scrap the idea.

Ross Kidd, who owns Bay Beds on Queen Street, said: “Everyone is delighted it has been rejected. It’s good news for our businesses and the general public who regularly park on Queen Street.

“It’s a sensible decision and reflects the mood of the shopkeepers and the public.”

Businesses were concerned it would make deliveries difficult, and prevent an estimated 600 people a week being able to park free for an hour and then go shopping.

Residents - including disabled people - also complained about the potential loss of parking places on their doorsteps.

Another bone of contention was placing the rank so near to an established private hire taxi company, Coastal Taxis, which competes for trade against the Hackney drivers, which unlike private hire taxis can be hailed from the street or sit on a rank.

There were fears this could lead to late-night disorder between revellers vying for a taxi home, and acrimony between competing cabbies.

In papers before councillors on Lancaster City Council’s licensing committee, members were told a public consultation about the idea had resulted in “very strong objections,” with over 40 people writing in and a 42-page petition against.

The idea of the rank was one of a number of proposals put forward by taxi driver group, the Lancaster City Hackney Proprietors Association (LCHPA), representing over 100 cabbies as part of a long overdue update of on-street taxi provision across Morecambe and Lancaster.

But licensing committee member and Morecambe Town councillor, Shirley Burns, urged the committee not to go”any further,” with the plan, while the town hall’s licensing manager Wendy Peck, said it had also failed to win support from highways authority, Lancashire County Council.

Coun Burns told the meeting: “Queen Street isn’t suitable. There’s people who live there, work there and it’s constantly used for shoppers and residents all the time. I don’t know where this idea came from. It’s inconceivavble to even consider having taxis on Queen Street, it would be the most stupid thing we ever did.”

LCHPA and its chairman, Andy Kay, a Hackney Carriage driver, was there to see the idea turned down.

He said he accepted the view of the committee and the highways authority.

He conceded that the plan for Queen Street had been too radical and that the association would have been happy four Hackney Carriage spaces on Queen Street, but had pitched too high by suggesting 12.

The proposals had also failed to find favour with the police.

Vanessa Keeping, a director of Coastal Taxis Limited which runs its office on Queen Street, was at the hearing too.

A letter from her company argued: “Over the weekends and Bank Holidays we marshall our door at a high cost to ourselves - only to help the police and the premises surrounding our area.

“If the taxi ranks were to be had, who would marshal those? In our experience, you will get fighting for the cars and great frenzies of drunken people.”