Drivers worried by surge in black cabs in Norwich
People in Norwich have been invited to help decide whether the number of black cabs operating in the city should be limited.
Taxi drivers have long been calling on Norwich City Council to limit the number of hackney carriages allowed to operate, saying the city is so flooded with them that they are struggling to make a living.
The Norwich Hackney Trade Association said people who lost their jobs in the recession had turned to cab driving, bringing the number of vehicles on the city's streets up to saturation point, with more than 200.
A petition was presented to the city council's licensing committee in November 2010, but the council has yet to figure out how to tackle the issue.
The council cannot legally refuse to licence a hackney carriage once licensing conditions have been met, unless it is satisfied there is no significant 'unmet demand' for taxi services within the city and no survey has been done to establish if that is the case.
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But officers have been looking to see if they could control the numbers another way - by changing the existing hackney carriage licence conditions or vehicle specification - and have asked the public for views.
However, Ian Clodd, chairman of the Norwich Hackney Trade Association, said cab drivers were frustrated a problem raised 18 months ago has still not been tackled.
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He said: 'They have put it off and put it off and it is now past saturation point. What they need to do is cap the licences for a few years, because as it stands we are getting somebody new starting every week.
'We are finding it hard to make a living and some of the older drivers. who know the city like the back of their hand, are leaving the trade. We are at our wits' end.'
The results of the consultation will go back before members of the licensing committee in June.
Fares for Hackney carriages, which are the taxis you can 'flag down' at a taxi rank or off the street, are set by the city council.
The city council also licences private hire vehicles, which have to be pre-booked.
Bert Bremner, cabinet member with responsibility for licensing at Norwich City Council, said: 'We'd very much like the city's residents to offer their views on the licensing of black cabs that operate in Norwich.'
The closing date for the consultation is Monday, April 30. To submit your views, visit www.norwich.gov.uk and click 'Current consultations' in the quick links box on the left-hand side of the home page.