13 February 2006

Taxi Dispute

From This is Plymouth:
12:00 - 13 February 2006
A Plymouth taxi rank was surveyed by two people at the same time - and each came up with different cab figures, an appeal hearing has heard.Two observers working on a survey of Plymouth's Hackney carriages mistakenly went to same the rank at Old Town Street. They recorded different figures for the number of cabs passing through the rank, Plymouth Crown Court heard.Taxifast, run by John Preece, is appealing a council decision from 2003 to refuse it 30 Hackney licences.

This is a battle going through the courts for more Taxi licences in Plymouth. The council having done a survey said no more were needed and the taxi company dispute this. Most of this case so far has been into the survey itself and how accurate it was.

back on the 8th February
Taxi mogul John Preece, has launched a court battle against Plymouth City Council which could result in the city's black cab limit being scrapped - hitting existing Hackney drivers and bus firms.More than 1,000 taxi drivers, plus bus bosses and the council, are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the appeal hearing at Plymouth Crown Court this week.If Mr Preece wins, the council is likely to have to scrap its 359-limit on Hackney carriages.Dozens of black cabs, which can sit on ranks and be flagged down, unlike private hire vehicles, could then create competition for council-owned Citybus, which the court heard fears 'revenue extraction', and Hackney drivers worried about their businesses.Mr Preece, boss of the private hire firm Taxifast, is appealing against the council's decision to refuse him 30 hackney licences in 2003.The council is one of only 30 per cent of local authorities still employing controls. Mr McKee, questioned by the council's barrister James Findlay, outlined how TPi was paid £20,000 to carry out its survey in January and February last year, with observation of 44 Hackney ranks, for a total of 775 hours. Observers noted vehicles, customers, and waiting times.The test for significant unmet demand is based on whether passengers have to wait for a taxi. A complicated mathematical formula is used to reveal this from survey findings.The TPi report revealed there were excess taxis for 11.4 per cent of the time, and excess people for 4.5 per cent of the time. The court heard Plymouth's Local Taxi Association, backed by the TGWU, said that it was 'rare' for passengers to have to wait for taxis and removing the limit would be 'detrimental' for reasons including 'public safety', 'stability providing confidence', increase in part-time drivers and because business would be affected.

John Preece: The person behind Taxifast, who is based in Plymouth. He started in coaches with Plympton Coach Lines, which he built up to 17 coaches from 2 within a couple of years. He then became the Managing Director of Western National Bus Company which was sold to First Bus. He then turned his attention to taxis with Key Cabs and 70 cabs in 1989. Hs is very prominent in local politics and has had a lot of influence in the local bus scene over the years.

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