King’s Lynn taxi driver hits out at council’s rank move

New Taxi Rank within Sainsbury's Town Centre Car Park King's Lynn'LtoR, Clare Ward (Silena Automotive), John Stevens (Taxi Driver), Simon Nash (Silena Automotive), Jason Smith (Taxi Driver) ANL-150731-151846009

New Taxi Rank within Sainsbury's Town Centre Car Park King's Lynn'LtoR, Clare Ward (Silena Automotive), John Stevens (Taxi Driver), Simon Nash (Silena Automotive), Jason Smith (Taxi Driver) ANL-150731-151846009

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Trade has slumped and drivers are being made ill by pollution at the new site of a Lynn town centre taxi rank, a driver has claimed.

Jason Smith has written to West Norfolk Council to demand action on the Vancouver Quarter site and says he is considering legal action if the problems are not addressed.

But officials say the new site was backed by a majority of passengers during a consultation, while a safety assessment did not raise any concerns.

The pick-up point was moved from its previous position in Albion Street to the ground level of the Sainsbury’s Vancouver Quarter car park earlier this year.

The switch, which councillors insisted would provide a better service for the public, was made as part of a £1.6 million revamp of the town’s bus station, which was formally re-opened on Thursday.

But Mr Smith estimates that taxi drivers’ trade has halved since the new rank came into operation.

He said: “We have just been shafted like they always do with us.”

In a three-page letter to the council, which the Lynn News has seen, he claimed drivers were suffering respiratory problems, headaches, fatigue and depression as a result of pollution from vehicles using the area, which he claims is inadequately ventilated, while smokers were also congregating there as the bus station is now a non-smoking area.

He said trade was being further affected by a lack of signage to tell the public where they could find a taxi and anti-social behaviour that he believes has driven some customers away.

And he warned it was “only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured” following several near misses between cars, motorbikes and pedestrians.

But Adrian Lawrence, cabinet member for housing and community, said yesterday: “The taxi trade are an important transport provider, particularly in such a rural area as West Norfolk.

“We have recognised this and have worked hard with representatives of the trade to ensure that their needs are catered for.

“We have provided a rank that is located closer to the shops and is under cover – offering shelter to waiting passengers – and have taken on board comments and issues raised throughout the process.

“We have listened to concerns and provided reassurance about air quality and health and safety.

“We know that some works including signage and increased CCTV coverage are still outstanding, but these matters are in hand and should soon be complete.”

The council said it introduced a feeder stand upon the recommendation of taxi trade representatives.

Officials added that new signs are likely to be in place next week, while air quality monitoring showed levels were below objective limits.

But Mr Smith claimed the drivers had “the full support of the public who can’t believe the despicable way we have been treated over this”.

He added: “I fully intend to take this matter further if need be.”