Cab firms’ regulation call in row over ‘patch’

Eamonn Bailey of Village Cars in Bamber Bridge and Craig McGarry of Tardy Gate Taxis
Eamonn Bailey of Village Cars in Bamber Bridge and Craig McGarry of Tardy Gate Taxis

Taxi firms are demanding action over allegations of rivals and uninsured vehicles coming into their patch.

South Ribble Council requires taxis registered to the area are no more than four-years-old at registration, that drivers pass a medical and they sit a knowledge test of the borough.

But operators, including Tardy Gate Taxis of Lostock Hall and Village Cars of Bamber Bridge, have complained that taxis registered by Preston Council, which are not required meet the same standards, are breaching regulations by increasingly coming on to their patch.

Craig McGarry of Tardy Gate Taxis, said: “If you call for a taxi in South Ribble, you’re meant to get a South Ribble car, but this isn’t always happening.”

He added: “Preston Council doesn’t have an age limit on the cars, so it’s putting us at a real disadvantage.

“Preston drivers also have little knowledge of the South Ribble area, so passengers are having to direct the driver.

“And because it’s quieter in town, Preston private hire cars are lining up outside South Ribble pubs and clubs.

“When people have had a drink, they don’t know which taxi they’re getting in, and if these haven’t been pre-booked then the customer isn’t insured.”

Eamonn Bailey, owner of Village Cars, said: “There’s cars all over Bamber Bridge with Preston plates. It’s a free for all and it’s having a big impact on my business. I’ve just spent £10,000 on a new car, whereas a Preston firm could buy five for that.

“It’s not a level playing field and we need South Ribble Council to get tough.”

Vice chairman of South Ribble Council’s licensing committee, Coun Mary Robinson, said: “We are aware that there is a problem with unlicensed taxis coming into South Ribble, and we will not tolerate it.

“We’ve already taken some steps to counter this, and there are a number of other options open to us.

“We are in the process of taking legal advice at the moment, so it would be inappropriate to go into further details at this stage.

“What I can say is that we will do everything we possibly can to ensure passenger safety and stand up for South Ribble’s law-abiding taxi drivers.”