Page last updated at 06:04 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 07:04 UK

Cabbies protest over taxi numbers

Taxis taking part in a protest
Taxis gathered at Cardiff's civic centre for the first protest

Taxi drivers in Cardiff are calling on the city to cut the number of cab licences on offer.

The Cardiff Hackney Association claims the Welsh capital has been flooded with cabs, and its drivers are struggling to earn enough to stay in business.

The group is holding a second day of protests on Friday over the issues.

However, Cardiff council leaders say the city needs the current level of licensed taxi cabs to deal with the influx of weekend visitors and events.

The cabbie's association says the number of black hackney carriages in the city has more than doubled since 2005, to more than 1,000 taxi licences.

The council admits that figures have soared, however say the number of licensed hackney cabs in the capital stands at 815.

But the taxi drivers are also incensed by the number of taxi ranks Cardiff, with just places for 50 vehicles.

In the interest of public safety there isn't a strong enough argument for imposing a limit
Coun Ed Bridges

Mathab Khan, the chairman of the Cardiff association, said the council was failing to address the needs of the industry in the city.

"The demand is never there for this amount of taxis. We are currently at the 1,000 mark - there is no demand at all - there is only supply," he claimed.

He said his members were struggling to make ends meet, as more licences are approved by the council, and competition from the private hire car trade.

"A lot of the private hire drivers now are transferring in to the taxi trade, that's because there's not enough work in the private trade either," he added.

Licensed taxi drivers took their protests to the city centre on Thursday evening, when 20 cars at a time gathered at the civic centre.

The protest is now set to be repeated again on Friday.

Mr Khan said there was also mounting concern at the number of taxi ranks available, claiming that a consultant had told them there should be around 400 rank spaces in Cardiff.

Ed Bridges, chair of the council's licensing committee, admitted that the drivers were right to raise issues over taxi ranks.

Rank space

"I think they have a fair point, that there isn't enough rank space for them, and that's something where I think we would like to make some progress," he said.

But Coun Bridges said he did not accept the argument that Cardiff had too many black cabs.

"We have a lot of extra people coming in to the city centre on the weekend, we have a lot of extra people in the city when there are events at the Millennium Stadium," he insisted.

"For example lone women in the city centre would be getting into unlicensed vehicles or walking home late at night - and we don't want that.

"We feel in the interest of public safety there isn't a strong enough argument for imposing a limit."



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