Taxi and private hire drivers are plead- ing with Falkirk Council to rethink a rule over new vehicles they say is causing some drivers hardship and forcing oth- ers out of business. The Falkirk Herald reports several drivers say the local authority’s decree that all new taxis must be under three years old makes replacing their vehi- cles just too expensive. Drivers say they would have to work over 80 hours a week to cover the cost of the finance - and that is no longer possible as trade has slumped by around 80 per cent because of the coronavirus. For some, the rule has meant keeping an older car on the road for years

longer than they’d like to. For others, it’s meant a choice between taking on massive debt or leaving the job altogether. Several drivers have now written to Falkirk Council to argue their case. The local authority has confirmed it could review the policy. Councillors are set to discuss the vehi- cle eligibility criteria for taxi and private hire cars next month. Stuart Watson said the new rule forced him to take finance out on a car he couldn’t afford - and nearly ruined him when its engine went. With two massive repair bills -for £3,500 and then nearly £6,000 - he had no option but to return the car.


John Scarlett owner operator of JMS Topgear Travel, an airport transfer busi- ness based in Stoke-on-Trent, contacted PHTM to tell us of the novel idea he is introducing for 2021 when hopefully the travel business picks up. He said: “I am offering to dress up as Mickey Mouse when I pick up families with young kids who are travelling to the airport to go on holiday. “For safety reasons I obviously cannot drive with the head on, but will arrive fully dressed when I pick them up from their home, and will give them the opportunity to take some photos before the start of the journey. “I see it as bit of fun and theatre for the kids, as I see them as the next genera- tion of customers. I think this is a great way for them to remember me and my business from a young age, and this will then hopefully encourage them to be loyal customers for years to come. “This is me thinking ahead and thinking outside the box to create extra work


Only a loan from a friend allowed him to buy a new vehicle, and stay in busi- ness. He said: “If my car breaks down again, my wife and I are out of a job.” Another driver, Harry Brown, was frus- trated at having to pay £2,500 more for a car registered in June, compared to the same type of vehicle registered in May. “There were many cars for sale in excellent condition up to six years old with low mileage - but I couldn’t use any of them because of this unfair and draconian policy,” he said. “In the past year many owner-drivers have struggled to survive and are run- ning at a loss - jobs are definitely in the balance.”

and a solid future for my airport trans- fer business.” PHTM applauds all businesses that go the extra mile - good customer service and customer loyalty is paramount to the success of any business and we wish John lots of luck with his novel idea!

Another driver, with 30 years experi- ence, was unable to get finance for a new car when the gear box on his Skoda Octavia went. Unable to buy a new one and facing a repair bill of £4,800, he eventually left the trade. The council introduced the policy as an environmental measure to ensure that cleaner cars with lower emissions are on Falkirk roads. But taxi owner Brian Arthur argues that hybrid engines are not the answer. He said: “I’m an environmentalist but the fact is that hybrid cars are still get- ting power from petrol or diesel. “Yes, you can get a fully electric car but where I live I can’t get parked near my home so there’s nowhere to plug it in. The bottom line is that it should be about CO2 emissions, not age restrictions.” A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “Vehicle eligibility criteria for taxi and private hire cars will be reviewed as part of the wider Policy Development process. The Policy Development Panel hope to meet in in February where they will continue their work programme on a number of taxi / private hire car relat- ed issues.” The council has also been in touch with drivers who may be eligible for a grant and will contact them again soon when the system is live.


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