FED-UP Mansfield cab drivers have said that a lack of taxi ranks planned for the town’s new bus station will damage their livelihoods and create problems for those using the multi-million pound development.
Cabbies are angry that there is provision for just 10 taxi rank spaces and believe they are being ignored by planning bosses behind the £9m bus station, which will be built on the Station Road car park.
The current outdated bus station off Rosemary Street has 17 taxi rank spaces but the new facility has only 10 spaces with six planned on Quaker Way and four taxi spaces located on Queen Street.
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The project is being led by Nottinghamshire County Council working in partnership with Mansfield District Council and the county’s website says the scheme will provide a ‘first class interchange’.
The £9m plans will see the district council and Nottinghamshire County Council contributing £930,000 and the Government £7.96m
But Nick Shaw, a representative for taxi drivers in Mansfield, said the current plans create problems for taxi drivers and the public.
“These plans will mean that taxi drivers do not have a designated area to pick up so they will end up driving around the town centre like a pack of vultures trying to pick up trade,” he said. “There are more than 80 Hackney cab drivers in Mansfield and since Tesco moved the bus station has been where we get the majority of our trade from.
“But if these plans go ahead, people coming out of the bus station and train station will have little access to taxis - they will have to walk more than 200 yards to reach a Hackney cab.”
Nick says the lack of taxi ranks will create particular problems for disabled people, pensioners and women travelling alone and raises questions of public safety. “It is an inadequate facility for the taxi trade and a poor service for people in Mansfield,” he added.
“People who can’t find a Hackney taxi may end up ringing for a private cab which again is taking the trade away from us.”
The new station will be fully enclosed and will boast a comfortable waiting area with plenty of seating, toilets, shop, café and baby changing area.
It will also include a staffed travel information office, CCTV cameras linked to the town centre system and automatic doors separating the waiting passengers from buses.
Coun Chris Winterton, Nottinghamshire county councillor for Mansfield South, says that planners have ignored the town’s cab drivers.
“They have to make greater provision for taxi ranks,” he said. “Go into any major city and the bus station will have provisions for taxi ranks.
“People want to come back into Mansfield at night and know that they are safe and can access a taxi to get home.
“We also need shelters for people to sit in when waiting.”
Coun Richard Jackson, Nottinghamshire County Council cabinet member for transport and highways, said: “While appreciating the concerns of the Taxi Association we said from the start that, as in Newark and Retford, there would be no provision made for taxis within the bus station, primarily on safety grounds.
“However, we have been working hard to find an answer to the concerns of Mansfield’s taxi drivers.
“As a direct result of feedback from drivers during the initial consultation we are now proposing to include dedicated taxi bays on Queen Street and some more on Quaker Way.
“The head of the taxi rank on Quaker Way is within sight of the bus station and the one on Queen Street is a minute’s walk away.
“The Queen Street rank has space for three taxis while the Quaker Way one has room for six. In addition, the existing rank will continue in service until the site is redeveloped, so in reality there will be an increase in taxi spaces.
“Once the station is up and running we will monitor the use of ranks and if there is a need for more spaces we will work with the taxi operators to create them.”