Derision for St Albans Market Place taxi rank scheme

AN INVESTIGATION into installing a taxi rank in Market Place in St Albans city centre has been scoffed at by a Lib Dem councillor.

At a recent St Albans district council licensing and regulatory committee meeting, councillors were told there would be further investigations to see whether it was feasible to have a night-time taxi rank at Market Place.

But Cllrs Chris White and Aislinn Lee said they strongly objected to a rank in that location, near the old Town Hall. They said the area should instead be fully pedestrianised as there was already a taxi rank close by.

After the meeting Cllr White said: “Market Place is essentially a pedestrian shopping area – and in fact should be fully pedestrianised, as it was until Labour councillors reintroduced traffic there a decade or so ago.

“Having taxis there completely undermines its current use as well as ruining one of the more attractive entrances to the city centre.”

He was also concerned to see a report about a previously undiscussed proposal to direct taxis up Spencer Street in order to park outside The Boot.

Cllr White added: “Residents in Spencer Street need more traffic like they need a hole in the head.

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“Officials admitted that no attempt had been made to consult with local district councillors let alone with me as county councillor but are pressing ahead anyway with investigating the possibilities of this ridiculous idea, despite the objections made by councillors.”

It was reported at the committee meeting that 56 taxis had recently been stopped and checked.

Councillors said they were concerned to learn of there being six incidents of failure on a vehicle, particularly those driving “the most vulnerable residents in the community” and asked for a report on the roadworthiness of taxis.

An additional taxi rank at St Peter’s Street has recently been approved by the committee.

Council officers have been asked by local taxi drivers to investigate the feasibility of additional ranks at various locations including outside Baroque Bar and HSBC in Chequer Street, evenings only, and Upper Marlborough Road, also evenings only.

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Gordon Myland, confirmed that council officers would examine the suggested additional ranks, “which could help spread the load” of space allocated for taxis in the city. He said that while Cllr White “has a bee in his bonnet” about pedestrianising Market Place, “I don’t believe that will help”.