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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Row over airport car ban
Newcastle Airport
Private cars and most taxis are banned from the terminal
A row has erupted over a vehicle ban at one of the north of England's busiest airports.

Management at Newcastle Airport have slapped a ban on all but a limited number of taxis picking up or dropping off passengers outside its main terminal.

Airport officials say the move has been prompted by security and safety concerns.

But local taxi firms, passengers and city councillors have criticised the decision.

Airport chief executive John Parkin says move means a walk of just a few extra yards to the terminal building.

But opponents point out that the extra 20-30 yard distance is difficult for disabled passengers and people with children as a road has to be crossed.

Mr Parkin said: "What we have done is make changes that are in the interest and safety of our passengers.

"We believe these are correct and our passengers, as we are talking to them, are very happy."

'Difficult issue'

Mr Parkin said a local disabled group helped with the design and implementation of the plan.

But Andy Rickell, chief executive of the British Council of Disabled People (BCoDP), said: "We are against any measures which make air travel for disabled people more difficult.

"The issue of air travel and disability is a very difficult issue.

"But on balance airports and airlines should be making it easier for disabled people to travel by air.

"We have had similar complainst about vehicle restriction at East Midlands Airport."

Newcastle city councillor Dave Wood criticised the airport for not informing the public of changes to terminal access.

'Potentially dangerous'

He said: "I was at the airport the other day returning from a trip to Spain and found it very difficult to get transport away from the airport.

"No-one had given us any notification of any changes."

Mr Parking added: "In the past, at peak times the front of the terminal could get extremely congested which is frustrating for drivers and potentially dangerous for passengers crossing from the car parks on foot.

"We must also ensure that vehicles are not left unattended outside the terminal building.

"The new scheme has tackled all of these issues and offers our customers a much easier start to their journey through the Airport.

"With four million passengers expected this year it is important that we can offer modern, accessible and safe facilities for the ever increasing number of people using Newcastle Airport."



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