Council steps in to settle Durham taxi fares row

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COUNCIL chiefs are looking closely at changes to rules for taxi drivers after complaints they would amount to a “free-for-all” in Durham city centre.

More than 50 cabbies organised a go-slow protest in Durham in March after the county council announced drivers from outlying areas could ply their trade in the city centre.

The changes also saw 15 new taxi spaces available after 6pm by extending a rank in Claypath, and providing an extra rank in certain hours in Freeman’s Place.

The rule changes, which began this month, were drawn up after seven district councils merged into one “super council” in 2009. The changes removed previous zone restrictions.

Durham City taxi and hackney carriage drivers were furious, as it meant cabs from other areas could now help themselves to their customers.

Now Joanne Waller, the council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, has thanked drivers and customers for their support as the changes were implemented, and said the authority was now looking carefully at the impact.

She said: “I am aware the deregulation has resulted in an increase in the number of taxis available in the city and am sure that, over time, demand and supply will level out.

“Some concerns have also been raised by residents regarding the number of vehicles with idling engines and some issues regarding motorists getting used to the temporary traffic order on Claypath have also arisen.

“To address these matters we are continuing to inform and educate on the changes and we will be looking to improve the signage relating to the temporary traffic order in the near future.

“The council will also closely monitor this pilot traffic order, which can be amended if required in the future.”

She said the changes would improve the availability of taxis at peak times and create a fairer system.