Disabled passengers will end up losing out as taxi drivers struggle to cope with a lack of space at Lynn’s new taxi rank.
As the cabbies’ row over the relocation of the pick-up point rages on, a driver claimed he will be forced to refuse travel to wheelchair-bound customers after the rank was moved by West Norfolk Council.
Brendon Cossey, who owns Lynn-based firm Taxi Ko, said the new site on the ground level of Sainsbury’s car park in the Vancouver Quarter does not provide enough room to use a large MPV vehicle with rear tailgate wheelchair access.
He also said all passengers were being put at risk of injury as a lack of space means drivers are having to shunt their vehicles backwards and forwards to manoeuvre about.
Mr Cossey said he used the rank for the first time at the weekend since it was moved from Albion Street as part of the £1.6 million revamp of the town’s bus station, and will not be using it again in future.
He said: “Wheelchair passengers will end up being penalised as there’s not enough room to use a vehicle with rear access.
“It’s also only a matter of time before someone is hurt. There have already been several near-misses between the cars and pedestrians.”
His comments come after fellow taxi drivers called for action from the council to address “appalling conditions” at the new rank.
Driver Jason Smith said he and other drivers had suffered health problems from being enclosed in a covered, fume-filled car park, and claimed trade had halved due to poor signage and customers feeling “intimidated” at the new site.
Mr Cossey said many drivers would like to see the rank relocated to where it used to be before the bus station, at the former Lord Kelvin public house in Old Market Street.
And in another grievance about the council’s treatment of taxi drivers, he questionned why Hackney vehicles were not allowed to have transponders so they could use the town’s bus lanes, as they do in cities like Norwich and Cambridge.
He said: “The council just doesn’t want to listen to us. We are a public transport, but all the council cares about is buses.” Jonathon Toye, co-ordinator of West Norfolk Disability Information Service (WNDIS), said he had not heard of any complaints from disabled customers about the new taxi rank, but was concerned that they may be being affected.
“It would make sense to create more space for those people who need to use rear tailgates, or perhaps use the space outside the Lord Kelvin to specifically pick up those people who are in a wheelchair,” he said.