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Brighton and Hove taxi drivers fear for safety
Angry taxi drivers claim they will be attacked by “drunk and drugged up” customers when citywide speed restrictions come into force.
Earlier this month, Brighton and Hove City Council approved widespread 20mph limits, claiming the move would reduce congestion and pollution while improving road safety.
Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat dismissed the taxi drivers’ concerns, claiming their arguments “simply did not hold water”.
But Mick Hildreth, secretary of the GMB union’s Hackney carriage and private hire section, warned drunken customers could turn nasty if they thought drivers were deliberately travelling slowly.
He also revealed fares were likely to go up after the limits were introduced because taxis would spend more time waiting at red lights.
He said: “When people get into a taxi, they assume the quicker it gets somewhere the cheaper it is. When this rule comes in, drunk customers are going to think that drivers are ripping them off.
“We will not sit back and let our members be physically attacked by drunk or drugged up customers, with the tacit support of the council leader who thinks a rational chat with people off their heads will reduce violence against taxi drivers.
“We demand Coun Kitcat immediately withdraws his comments and apologises to those drivers now in fear of an increased level of attacks solely down to his Green council policies.”
But Coun Kitcat defended the local authority’s move to reduce city speed limits – and denied risking taxi drivers’ safety.
He said: “I don’t condone violence against anyone. That’s why we recently introduced CCTV cameras into taxis to protect drivers. We have had so much support for this policy from across the city.
“There are already 20 mph zones in some parts of Brighton and Hove and this problem has not been reported.”
Talking point: To what extent do you agree with the taxi drivers? How do you think the 20mph will improve or cause problems for traffic in Brighton and Hove? Share your views by commenting below or email the letters pages firstname.lastname@example.org
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