Taxi drivers to avoid Newcastle town centre tonight over proposed licence changes

People heading into Newcastle tonight are being warned they may struggle to find transport.

Some taxi drivers - including those driving private hire and hackney carriages - say they will not be going within a mile radius of the area between 11.30pm tonight (15 March), and 3am tomorrow morning (16 March), in protest at new rules Newcastle Borough Council are proposing.

They include changes affecting vehicle age, and plans to increase the use of electric vehicles.

A statement released on behalf of some local drivers says that the Borough Council have not spent enough time consulting with the people the changes will affect, and they were only given 2 months to comment and make representations about a 92-page document.

They say they have asked the Borough Council to engage further with them to try to resolve these matters and find a 'satisfactory solution', but feel that the authority are not willing to compromise on it's policy - and no further discussions will be allowed. 

Cllr. Stephen Sweeney, Cabinet member for finance and efficiency at the Borough Council, said: “Consultation is democracy in action and gives people the chance to influence decision making.

“The draft taxi licensing policy consultation, which ended yesterday, was originally intended to last for 12 weeks but was extended on two occasions, taking it to 23 weeks, after requests from the taxi drivers. The Council also met with them three times during this period to discuss a number of issues.

“It’s important to stress that no decisions have been taken yet. Approximately 400 consultation comments have been received and they will be considered by the Public Protection Committee in April.

“It’s very regrettable that the taxi drivers have chosen to take this action – the Council sympathises with their customers who will be negatively affected.”

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