Council accused of allowing too many taxis to operate
By Lee Trewhela LDRS Reporter
24th May 2023 | Local News
Cornwall Council has been accused of allowing too many taxis to operate in the county – which has seen the number increase from 54 to 97 in Newquay alone – since the council removed the limit on how many taxis can operate in three areas of the Duchy. There are fears it's impacting on drivers' livelihoods.
At a meeting of the full council at Lys Kernow (New County Hall) in Truro on Tuesday, May 23, a taxi driver – Mr Morris, of Newquay – told the council that taxi operators needed more passengers "now you have created an oversupply".
He added: "How do you intend to aid the trade as we have received a 35% pay cut and are now below minimum hourly wage most nights?" Mr Morris said the council had produced "a tragedy of the commons", meaning it had depleted the economy of Cornwall's taxi trade.
Cllr Carol Mould, portfolio holder for neighbourhoods in Cornwall Council's Conservative-run Cabinet, explained that the council had agreed in January to remove the limit on the number of taxis operating in the Carrick, Restormel, and Penwith zones following recommendations by the Miscellaneous Licensing Committee.
The zones include such busy towns as Truro, Falmouth, St Austell, Newquay, St Ives, and Penzance.
She said the Department of Transport guidance states that councils should not impose limits on taxis. A view shared by the the Competitions and Markets Authority.
"The licensing authority carried out an extensive consultation with the public and the trade last year and subsequently made a recommendation to full council to remove the limits. The licensing authority was fully aware that it was a controversial issue, because in those zones with a limit the taxi trade was a strong advocate of keeping a restricted fleet," added Cllr Mould.
"They were understandably concerned regarding the impact on numbers of vehicles. Their belief was that de-restriction would open the floodgates and bring numerous problems with it. However, since the limits were removed in January, although there has been an increase in taxi numbers overall, the number of private hire vehicles has fallen. This is as expected.
"In addition, the council recently approved an increase in the taxi fare tariff for the Restormel zone which will support the trade in what are difficult times for many people."
When Mr Morris questioned the success of allowing more taxis to operate, Cllr Mould added: "We have to go with the statistics that the numerical limits are working and we have to move with the times. I understand how difficult it is for lots of people making a living in these difficult times. I stand by the decision that it was the right one."
Meanwhile in Newquay, 123 Associated Taxis and A2B Taxis Newquay, two of the leading taxi companies in the town, have officially merged to establish a unified and expanded taxi service operation.
After competing against each other for over two decades, these market leaders have joined forces under the 123 brand, effectively forming the largest taxi fleet in Newquay.
The merger became effective on May 15, with the new operation based at their office on Cliff Road. The merger will create the largest taxi fleet in Newquay, with over 30 vehicles on the road.
The new company will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will offer a variety of vehicles, from saloon cars to 6-seaters and 8-seater minibuses.