Taxi drivers step up 15-year fight

Drivers want the taxi rank changing.
Drivers want the taxi rank changing.

Taxi drivers who have been fighting for 15 years for changes to Dewsbury’s main taxi rank are urging people to back their campaign.

Dewsbury Hackney Carriages are lobbying for a change of direction to the rank on South Street, opposite the bus station.

The taxi rank currently faces away from the bus station entrance, so customers have to walk up the street to catch the front taxi, rather than jumping into the car nearest to them.

The drivers believe the walk is forcing people to use their competitors, and want the council to make the rank more user friendly.

But Kirklees Council said the cost of making the changes would be too high.

Akooji Badat, of the Kirklees Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Association said: “We understand it from the Council’s point of view that it costs them so much money for them to change the road and the markings.

“But Dewsbury bus station is the main rank and taxis are available 24/7. It’s our bread and butter.”

Customers at the taxi rank will be asked to sign the petition.

Mr Badat, who has been a taxi driver for 25 years, is also championing lowering Kirklees Hackney Carriage fares to match competitors.

He said: “I want to introduce a small sticker on taxis showing that we are going to charge the same price as private hire taxis, so customers have a choice and there will be no wait for them. We are trying to get our trade back to people can utilise our taxi ranks.”

If the petition is unsuccessful, Mr Badat is still going to go ahead with his price change plans.

He said: “We want to get the council to give a positive answer.”

A council spokesperson said: “The traffic flow in Dewsbury town centre and around the ring road means that the rank faces away from the bus station entrance and occasionally this means that people walk out of the bus station and instead of walking 20 yards to the front of the rank, will take a taxi from the back.

“The council has placed polite notices asking people to go to the front, and has also written to taxi firms reminding them of rank etiquette, but it is ultimately the customer’s choice.

“The council has looked into this matter but the costs would be prohibitive as changing the direction of the rank would mean changing the traffic flow for most of Dewsbury town centre and ring road and this may well cause more serious problems for the council and the police.”