Age limit angers cabbies

Taxi drivers Hugh McLaughlin (left) and Joe Gorman
Taxi drivers Hugh McLaughlin (left) and Joe Gorman

Taxi drivers are considering legal action against licensing chiefs over an age limit on vehicles which take disabled passengers.

The disgruntled cabbies say they can’t afford to replace what are perfectly roadworthy vehicles and are warning North Lanarkshire Council’s policy will mean fewer of these well-used taxis on the road.

However, the council increased the age limit earlier this year and maintains it is being ‘reasonable’.

North Lanarkshire taxi drivers must apply every three years to have their licence renewed. Purpose-built vehicles such as six-seaters with wheelchair access must be no more than 12 years old when a licence is being renewed.

Drivers say neighbouring local authorities don’t have such an age limit and want North Lanarkshire to scrap it.

They believe an annual MOT and twice-yearly council checks should be proof that a vehicle is safe to be on the road.

Motherwell driver Hugh McLaughlin said: “These vehicles cost more than £30,000 and older drivers won’t take out a loan of that size. All we want is a fair crack of the whip.

“Fewer Hackneys will be a disaster for disabled people and mums with prams.”

Colleague John Harra added: “If a vehicle ticks all the boxes it should stay on the road. Passenger safety is paramount, of course, but there are testing facilities to ensure vehicles meet the required standards. A poorly maintained taxi will fail any test.”

Bellshill driver Joe Gorman, a former councillor, is also unhappy about the prospect of forking out for a new vehicle. He said: “The council is making it difficult for us. If need be we’ll take appropriate legal action to try to sort this out.”

A council spokesman said: “All 493 wheelchair-accessible taxi operators were consulted in May of last year and 78 responded.

“The overwhelming majority of those who replied were in favour of increasing the age limit of purpose-built and purpose-adapted vehicles by two years.

“This would mean wheelchair accessible taxis would remain operational until they are a maximum of 15 and 12 years old respectively.

“We believe the age limits on vehicles are reasonable for the safety and comfort of passengers and drivers alike.”