Ben Howlett, Prospective Conservative Candidate for Bath, met with a selection of local taxi drivers from across Bath to discuss growing concerns of drivers coming into Bath to offer services, without the correct license, insurance or safety checks required to operate in Bath and North East Somerset (BANES). Further concerns were also raised at the meeting regarding disability friendly vehicles, secure bookings for customers and extortionate fares being charged by competitors, who do not bare the costs of fully licensed cabbies in the region.
Particular concerns were raised with Uber, who operate taxi services using an app based system and are growing in popularity in Bath. It was claimed in the meeting, that Uber services are less well regulated than BANES licensed taxis, increasing risks for customers whilst putting pressure on existing taxi businesses who have higher operational costs.
Ben, who is keen to champion local businesses, arranged the meeting following the concerns raised by one of the group, Paul Roles.
Ben said of the meeting "It is really important we ensure that taxi services in Bath are subject to proper regulations that ensure the safety of passengers, whilst offering a fair market place for all providers to work in. I understand the concerns raised by the drivers in Bath and will be speaking to Tim Bowles, the newly elected Regional Mayor for the South West, to see what can be done in the region to ensure that the issues of safety and competition are addressed.
“Should I be re-elected on the 8th of June, I will also look to raise this matter in Parliament with the Transport Select Committee, as well as working with BANES Council to review their operator’s licencing process. I am very grateful to all the drivers that came to speak to me and hope to be able to follow this up for them further.
Paul said of the meeting “We all feel it is really important to bring this matter to Ben’s attention, as we don’t believe this is a matter that can be resolved solely at a local level. Therefore, as stated in the meeting, with the newly elected Regional Mayor in place, all parties can work together to try to find a solution to some of these important issues.”
Bob Hollingdale, Chairman of the Hackney Association, who was also at the meeting said “At the national level, we hope that Ben can lobby for a national database of Taxi/Private Hire Drivers so that drivers that have been banned from one area cannot just get licenced in a different part of the country for work. There are many issues that need to be raised and I am very pleased that Ben will work with us to try to find a workable way forward”