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100 more taxis for Brighton and Hove's streets?
More than 100 extra taxis could hit the streets of Brighton and Hove in a bid to increase the number carrying disabled people.
Taxi firms have called the move “unsustainable” and urged Brighton and Hove City Council to maintain a cap on new cabs.
The council is considering giving licences to all taxis on its 150-strong waiting list.
The move is in response to recommendations made by the Fed Centre for Independent Living, which has called for a 60-40 ratio of taxis which meet the needs of those in electronic wheelchairs.
Currently there are 31 out of 167 which are accessible to people using wheelchairs.
At the current rate of five new plates a year, it would take 35 years to reach the target.
Brighton and Hove is one of about 80 local authorities which limits the number of licences.
The current cap is 545 taxis, with five new licences being issued each May.
A report for a licensing committee meeting on Thursday, which is considering the proposal, reads: “Taxis provide an important means of transport for disabled people and are often the only viable option available.
“Locally, representatives of disabled groups have asked for the continued provision of a mixed fleet, but are keen to increase the percentage of rear-loading wheelchair accessible vehicles to meet the needs of passengers with large powered wheelchairs.”
John Streeter, of Streamline Taxis, said an increase of even 25 extra taxi licences would be unsustainable.
He argued that 90 per cent of disabled users call for a cab rather than go to a taxi rank, but the proposals made no guarantee that the new taxis would be part of a radio circuit which would pick up these phone calls.
Mr Streeter added: “If most of the taxis go downtown to work on the ranks it will not solve the problem.
“The trade cannot take another 25, 30 or 40 cars.”
Mick Hildreth, secretary of the GMB Union Hackney carriage and private hire section, said: “The Brighton and Hove GMB Taxi and Private Hire section are firmly of the view that our industry, both from an ecological and economy viewpoint, cannot tolerate a large influx of Hackney carriages.”
He added that improvements to cabs needed to be continued for wheelchair-using customers.
The council will consider a range of options on Thursday, including increasing the number of licences by five each year and removing the current cap.