STAFFORD taxi drivers are launching a protest petition over controversial proposals to move a taxi-rank popular with late night revellers - and have won the support of a local councillor.
More than 40 members of the Stafford Taxi Association met Stafford borough council representatives, Stafford police and the town's MP Jeremy Lefroy this afternoon, Thursday, to debate proposals to relocate the taxi rank which is sited off Bridge Street, next to the Casa nightspot.
Drivers have a week submit their views to the council and are planning to put a petition in every taxi, and well as enlisting the support of local businesses and launching a letter-writing campaign.
Stafford Borough Council is considering moving the rank to make more space for the town's new cinema and retail development off Riverside.
But taxi association chairman Colin Jones said the plan would mean longer and more pricey journeys for taxis, add to road congestion elsewhere in the town, and lead to more late-night anti-social behaviour if revellers had to walk further to find a cab.
And Littleworth councillor Rowan Draper said the potential effect on the taxi rank had not been made clear in the developers' plans for the Riverside scheme. He said the the developer should honour the existing plans outlined at public consultation meetings earlier this year.
"At that consultation meeting I pointedly asked about the future of the taxi rank and I was assured that it was part of their vision," Councillor Draper said. "I feel that the planning committee should push for a condition on the application being approved that would ensure the future viability of the Bridge Street Taxi Rank.
"I don't want to see the development removing the existing taxi rank that operates there because I feel would be a hazard to the Council's objectives delivering a safe and vibrant night-time economy. In over a decade of my social life being entertained in Stafford Town Centre I have known flashpoints on the Newport Road where taxis have been known to pick up passengers yet in the last four years I have yet to see an incident on Bridge Street especially with the support of Street Pastors and Taxi Rank Supervisors.
I am look forward to using the cinema when the development is complete but as someone who does not drive I would like the peace of mind knowing that there is a safe taxi rank around the corner I can go to that will get me home for a reasonable price rather than forcing the rank to move and potentially costing more."