Dundee taxi drivers’ vehicles are being repossessed as they struggle to cope with rising costs and more could follow, a union chief has warned.
Stuart Elder, president of the GMB Dundee WAV (wheelchair-accessible vehicles) Taxi Branch which has more than 70 members says cab drivers will suffer if they have to pay for the introduction of taxi marshals.
The idea is being discussed by operators and Dundee City Council, with Stephen Graeme of Dundee Taxi Drivers’ Association issuing his support last week.
It’s proposed the cost of marshals who would organise late-night ranks at weekends could be recovered from drivers’ licence fees.
“This is going to cost either taxi drivers, or it’s going to cost the public,” said Mr Elder, who is also a driver.
“We pay in excess of 100,000 a year for a cab enforcement unit. We pay Police Scotland a lot of money for a unit that should be policing the taxi ranks. It’s hard to make money out there as it is.
“There are people out there having to run very expensive wheelchair-accessible cars. We’ve got to go to special dealers and these cars are in excess of 20,000.
“There are even guys getting their cars repossessed.
“At the end of last year, there were three that lost their livelihoods.
“It costs me 1,300 each month before I make any money that’s between my tax, my insurance and office fees.”
Erik Thoresen, chair of Dundee Hackney Association, agrees.
He said: “We can’t afford more costs.
“If there was a significant demand, a real need, we would understand. But we don’t see any need whatsoever for this.”
Councillor Stewart Hunter, licensing convener, said: “At the moment, the council hasn’t taken any decision. This has been a suggestion by one of the taxi groups.
“We’ve got to say: is it practical? Is it financially viable?
“If both these things are met, it’s something we would consider.
“The main priority is what’s best for the users that’s our priority and always has to be.
“There’s still work to be done on this before anything comes through to the licensing committee.
“We will listen to both sides and make a decision based on what’s best.”