Norwich clubbers must fund taxi marshalling scheme from next year

Night-time revellers will have to fund the taxi marshal scheme in Norwich city centre from next year because the money has run out.

The scheme started two years ago and marshals work at the rank in Tombland between 10pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

It costs around �20,000 per year to maintain and in the last two years has been funded by local businesses, the Safer Norwich Partnership, Norfolk Constabulary, Norwich City Council and, latterly, the Norfolk Nightsafe Partnership fund.

Funding for the marshals ends from the beginning of 2011 as the existing public revenue streams have been exhausted.

It means that clubbers will have to pay �1 per cab from next year, although participating venues in the city centre have agreed to reimburse revellers on presentation of a validated ticket.

Payment will be via a pay and display machine, and an application for its installation next to the existing rank in Tombland has now been submitted to the city council.

Julian Foster, chairman of the Central Norwich Citizens' Forum, which is one of the partners behind the scheme, said: 'The proposal from the partnership to levy a payment of �1 per cab from customers using the rank is a simple and fair solution.

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'But it would be grossly unfair and unsafe to ask the marshals to collect the fee and hence the need for a machine at the head of the rank to perform this function.

'It is expected that many businesses in the area will offer refunds to their customers on presentation of receipts from the machine. The machine is therefore essential to enable to service to be continued.

'If the plans are approved, we hope to have the machine and scheme up and running by February. We can then consider putting other machines at places where there's a need for them.'

He said about 1,250 people in Norwich used the taxi rank every weekend, with more than 130,000 people having used it so far.

'Reports of violent crime and anti-social behaviour in the city centre have fallen year on year since the introduction of the scheme particularly in the Tombland area,' he added.

Taxi marshals provide a secure radio link to the police and CCTV and can help hackney carriage drivers in dealing with intoxicated, violent and aggressive people.

The Tombland taxi marshals are provided by a partnership composed of the Norwich City Licensing Forum, the Central Norwich Citizens' Forum, the Norwich City Centre Partnership, Norwich City Council and the Norfolk Constabulary.

Plans for the installation of a solar powered pay and display machine were submitted by Shapoor Naghshineh of RCP Parking on behalf of the partnership, and will be discussed by Norwich City Council's planning committee at a date to be fixed.