Taxi drivers are to be given a say on proposals that could impact ranks across East Devon.
Proposals have been put forward to relocate, remove or alter 17 ranks in towns including Exmouth, Seaton, Honiton and Ottery St Mary.
They are overseen by district councils, but these changes have been suggested by Devon County Council as part of its responsibility for roads.
East Devon’s licensing and enforcement committee heard about various proposed changes, which include removing Ottery St Mary’s sole dedicated taxi rank space, taking one taxi rank space from Exmouth’s Victoria Road to turn it into a disabled parking bay for a nearby children and young person’s organisation, and preventing other drivers stopping in Honiton’s taxi rank.
Councillor Peter Faithful (Ind, Ottery St Mary) questioned the rationale of removing the town’s sole taxi space.
“I’ve been approached by the local taxi driver who wants to use the rank in Mill Street, so I’d like to know why it has been suggested that we no longer deserve a taxi rank in Ottery, as we’ve only got one,” he said.
Councillor Roy Collins (Liberal, Honiton St Michael’s) also queried the rationale behind the proposal to change part of Honiton’s taxi rank from no waiting to no stopping for members of the public.
“We have one long taxi rank in the centre of town and to propose no stopping at any time will cause a lot of hardship to people,” he said.
“I give some blue badge holders lifts to do their shopping and there’s nowhere else that you can safely pick someone up or drop them off.
“There are only ever two or three taxis in the rank waiting for fares, and there’s room for about six or seven cars in total.”
Cllr Collins said he had spoken to taxi drivers in the town who were happy for people in the town to pick people up and drop them off at the rank.
In relation to one of the proposed changes in Exmouth, Councillor Steve Gazzard (Lib Dem, Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh) said removing a space from the town’s Victoria Road rank could create problems at night.
“There are already disabled bays on the other side of the road to the rank, and I worry that if there is one less space for taxis there, you’ll get a situation in the evenings where taxis are having to go round in circles through the town trying to find a space to park, especially as the rank there already gets heavily congested,” he said.
The committee agreed to the county council’s suggestion of a consultation with the district’s taxi drivers, including the East Devon Taxi Association.
Taxi drivers and taxi company owners will now have from next Monday through to Monday 8 January to submit their views.
These comments will then be scrutinised by East Devon’s licensing committee in February, with approved changes then subject to a 28-day period for the public to comment.