Taxi drivers have pulled rank with the IW Council in their bid to be relocated during the St George’s Way improvement works in Newport.
The six-month scheme, which starts next week, is designed to improve traffic flows, address safety issues and improve connections for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.
The Council originally wanted the taxi-rank temporarily moved to St James Street, with displaced Southern Vectis buses taking residence in the area outside Peacocks. However, taxi spokesman, Des White of Amar Exclusive Taxis, said: “We were only told what was happening at the last minute.
“Myself and my wife Sharon did a risk assessment in St James Street and it was just not practical. It didn’t take into account wheelchair access vehicles which are much longer than normal cabs and the pavement is single file. It just wasn’t looked into properly.
“I spoke with Cllrs Matthew Price and Julie Jones-Evans and the council have come back to us and suggested Church Litten car park, which we will have to ourselves.
“This will keep us central in Newport and still visible from Morrisons and from the street. It’s the best we could have expected.”
Councillor Ian Ward, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said: “In such circumstances there is never an ideal solution and we explored alternative options for the location of the taxi-ranks.
“Multiple alternative locations were considered, including behind the library in Orchard Street, in Pyle Street and in lower High Street. However, the options were limited practically by the one-way orders and traffic movement restrictions within the town and the requirement for taxis to be able to travel in all directions.
“We were of the view that, on balance, the siting of the temporary rank in nearby St James Street was the best option in all the circumstances; however, we were happy to listen and take on board the views of local taxi operators and members.”
Des added: “It’s been a tough time for taxi drivers who have lost their bread-and-butter contract work during the various lockdowns with businesses, shops and schools closing, so we don’t need any more setbacks.
“Because a lot of us are freelance and we have no business premises, we were unable to get a furlough payment until December and won’t get another one until the end of April. We still have the usual bills to pay.
“However, to ensure that, in future, if the council needs to consult us on anything, we have re-established the IW Taxi Proprietors’ Association for both owners and drivers. This means they can contact us and we can quickly get together and sort things out.”