Number of taxis in town centre is a ‘nightmare’, according to drivers
- Credit: Archant
Taxi drivers in a Norfolk borough have claimed it is too easy to get a licence after they struggled for business during the festive period.
Cabbies in Great Yarmouth believe the council should introduce stricter regulations, making it more difficult for people to get hold of a taxi licence in the town.
One driver has described the situation as a nightmare.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council's licensing team sets the test for potential licence holders but drivers have claimed anybody is capable of passing them.
The assessment consists of four elements - understanding of driver and licence conditions, a knowledge test on the roads in the town, a numerical test and a literacy test.
Chair of the Great Yarmouth taxi association, Trevor Phillips, said lots of drivers are suffering because of the amount of taxis there are in the town.
'It is tough for everyone. There are too many taxis and there are not enough ranks so it is not surprising drivers are not happy.
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'It is so easy to pass the assessment and most drivers just do not know the area at all.
'We need tougher tests and it is something I have been continually asking for.'
A spokesperson for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said the tests underwent a thorough review in 2017 and have a pass rate of 80pc.
The spokesperson said: 'The council maintains and updates its systems and procedures for taxi licensing regularly in line with legislation.'
The number of licensed taxi drivers in the borough has remained fairly constant across the last three years.
There are currently 426 drivers with licences in the borough.
In 2017 there were 447 and in 2016, 440.
A private taxi driver, who did not want to be named, said they worked every day during Christmas and New Year despite getting limited business.
'It really was not good at all. Over the last three years I have not done very well and it is all because there are too many of us,' the taxi driver said.
'During busy periods the main taxi ranks in the centre are completely full and it is just a nightmare.'
A spokesperson for an unnamed taxi operator in Great Yarmouth said it would be in favour of the borough council implementing more stringent testing.
The spokesperson also supported calls for a taxi rank at Gapton Hall.
More taxi ranks needed;
The drivers believe installing a taxi rank at Gapton Hall shopping centre would help to increase their business while easing congestion on taxi ranks in the town.
Mr Phillips said: 'The council needs to evolve with the times. Less people are coming into the town centre to do their shopping so it makes a lot of sense to build a rank near to out-of-town centres such as Gapton Hall.
'I think it would make a real difference to all of us.'
A spokesperson for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said it discusses issues and proposals such as these with Norfolk County Council.
Consent for more taxi ranks is needed from the Highway Authority.
Another private taxi driver who only started in the business one year ago admitted he is considering quitting after having such a bad year.
He said: 'Business really has not been good and times are very hard for me.
'If things carry on I will definitely have to think about changing jobs.'