Coventry & Warwickshire

Coventry taxi drivers 'could stop using city-built cabs'

Taxi outside the Coventry Transport Museum
Image caption Cabs have been made in Coventry since 1919 and are in Coventry Transport Museum as well as on the city's roads

Plans to relax the rules on the types of vehicles allowed to be driven by Coventry taxi drivers are considered.

The city council is consulting on the proposals, ahead of a decision in December.

All taxis licensed to use ranks in Coventry have to be hackney carriages, made by the city's London Taxi Company (LTC), to meet the council's wheelchair accessibility and turning circle rules.

Taxi drivers have said the current rules create an expensive monopoly.

Coventry hackney carriage driver Arulampalam Murguganantham said: "I will definitely change to a Peugeot or Citroen if we can.

"We need seven-seaters and the finance and insurance costs on new black cabs are just not acceptable."

'Supporting local jobs'

Black cab driver Hashmat Zarie said: "It's a monopoly at the moment.

"If the black cab was as efficient and cost the same as others like the Nissan then we would prefer the black cab.

"We like supporting local jobs but you've got to think of your own pocket first."

Peter Johansen, from LTC, based on the Holyhead Road, agreed the vehicle is expensive, with current models costing £36,000, but said "very affordable" four-year schemes cost drivers £135 a week.

Image caption Cabbie Arulampalam Murguganantham will change vehicle if council licensing rules are relaxed

He said: "Taxi drivers in general love our vehicle, they love to be associated with it.

"Ours is the only purpose-built vehicle in the world.

"We are the best vehicle for wheelchair users, with the highest head room, hearing loops for the hearing impaired, swivel seats for those without wheelchairs. We are fully accessible."

LTC (previously known as LTI) went into administration in October 2012 and was bought by Chinese firm Geely five months later.

Full-scale production of black cabs in Coventry restarted last month, after 99 of its 176 employees lost their jobs.

A council spokesperson said disabled access was a priority and taxi vehicle manufacturers, vehicle converters, organisations representing disabled people and the Coventry taxi trade were being consulted.

A full report will be considered by councillor Rachel Lancaster, the cabinet member responsible for taxi licensing, on 10 December.

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