Fare’s fare: Cumbernauld’s cabbies fight over ‘illegal’ pick-ups

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 21:10 on 16 March 2015

Cumbernauld News

Cumbernauld Taxis' drivers are not happy about the matter of private hires parking in bus stops. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

A CUMBERNAULD taxi firm has branded an idea mooted in a recent Cumbernauld News and Kilsyth Chronicle letter to be “illegal” as well as against good business practice.

In an anonymous letter to the tabloid title, on Wednesday 4th March, a local resident said it was “fantastic” that local taxi firms were “stationed at every single bus stop in the town”. 

Although the letter was signed merely ‘Name and Address Supplied’, the letter said: “What a fantastic idea from local taxi companies to have a taxi or two stationed at every single bus stop in the town. It means if I happen to miss a bus they are there to get me to my chosen destination quickly.”

In comments described as “bizarre” by one local taxi firm, the reader goes on to write: “I have even noticed them parked on residential streets and local supermarket carparks too which is also great. Only issue I have is how come whenever I call for a taxi I’m told it will be at least 20 minutes?”

Cumbernauld Taxis has reacted to the letter with fury, claiming that the notion of private hire cabs picking up customers in bus stops and without being pre-booked is “illegal”.

“The letter put into the Cumbernauld News and the heading which it has been given is promoting what is being done by private hire companies locally,” one Cumbernauld Taxis representative told Cumbernauld.

“It is in fact illegal for anyone to park in a bus stop, with anybody caught facing up to a £100 fine and 3 penalty points.

“In relation to the points raised in the letter, the part about missing a bus and just getting into a taxi to get to a destination refers to private hire cars which are not allowed to pick up without being pre-booked,” the cabby representative added.

“Secondly, rules set out by North Lanarkshire Council categorically state that a private hire car that has no job cannot sit in any public place, street or anywhere, therefore it can only really return to base. However, this illegal activity is discretely encouraged by the private hire owners in order to provide a faster service and as they clearly have no parking facility for 200+ vehicles. They are doing this to muscle in on the business and put the black cabs out of business.”

Another Cumbernauld Taxis representative was furious at the points raised in the letter and told us: “This has been going on for years and it's only now that the licensing have been told to act on it. It has a serious effect on the other company who use the rank facilities effectively forcing them out of business for complying with the rules.”

According to Brian Bryce, a part owner of Cumbernauld Taxis a “private hire computer system” provides operators with a detailed “breakdown” of the zones throughout Cumbernauld. 

He added: “We [Cumbernauld Taxis] are due to speak with the council’s enforcement department at some point this week, in a bid to try and get them to make the private hire companies enforce it with their drivers, as it is absurd that they know their employees are breaking the councils laws but turning a blind eye for profit.”

One Cumbernauld Taxis driver told us that the matter was a “hot topic”, adding: “We have been pushing this for years and it's only now that we are starting to get somewhere.”

Andrew Anderson, Secretary of Cumbernauld Taxis told Cumbernauld Media: “It is not Cumbernauld Taxis’ policy to sit at Bus Stops, we have designated Ranks for our Taxis.

“North Lanarkshire Council licensing authority and the owners of private hire companies are actively encouraging their drivers to break the conditions of their license by allowing private hire vehicles to sit at Bus Stops.

“They are also aware that if a private hire vehicle picks up anywhere, unless it is pre-booked, the insurance for that vehicle is invalidated”

He added: “The Cumbernauld News has shown poor editorial in publishing a letter without establishing the full facts.”