TAXI drivers in Chester have reacted furiously to new age limits on their vehicles imposed by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Tuesday’s licensing committee meeting saw officers approve controversial proposals to limit the age taxis can be licensed.
The new age limits, which will be mandatory from April 1, 2016, are 15 years for Hackney carriages and wheelchair-accessible private hire vehicles, and 10 years for all other private hire vehicles.
Any taxi driver wishing to replace their car must get one under three-and-a-half years old for it to be granted a licence, while until April 2016, Hackney carriage drivers in Chester must buy a new cab.
Although the council has introduced the plans as part of an eco drive to ensure active vehicles are more environmentally friendly, the taxi industry has slammed the plans and is looking to appeal the decision.
Taxi driver Barry Fitzgerald, of the Hackney Association, is one of those who objected to the plans, with a 473-name petition delivered to the council against the age limit.
He said: “We never really had a consultation at the meeting, we just had three minutes each to speak and after that we couldn’t answer any points raised.
“We are now waiting on our unions to take the next step and see what happens.”
Chester Private Hire Association driver Bob Gilogly said: “Many drivers, in the middle of a recession, will simply be unable to do this, so it is estimated that up to 500 taxi drivers could face unemployment over the three-year transition period.
“The consequences of this decision for the general public are also obvious, as this will lead to increased fares or the inability to get taxis late at night, with the increased risk of trouble in the city centre.”
Mark Williams, director of Chester firm Abbey Taxis, said: “The decision made regarding the policy is unacceptable and we will be putting in a judicial review.”
CWaC licensing committee chairman Cllr Adrian Walmsley said: “We value taxi drivers indeed and the last thing we want to do is to take taxis off the road.
“We have consulted widely and I believe we have created a policy that, at its core, benefits the travelling public, raises standards and improves our environment.”