New rules could cut number of black cabs

The number of black cabs allowed to operate in Norwich could be cut by tightening rules on what age vehicles can be used and bygetting them to comply with an exhaust emissions standard.

Taxi drivers claim there are too many black cabs in the city and say it is making it hard for them to make a living.

There are currently 217 licensed black cabs in the city, but the Norwich Hackney Trade Association has called on the council to restrict the number that can be allowed.

Norwich City Council's licensing committee will discuss their request at a meeting on Thursday.

Councillors at the meeting are being recommended not to determine a maximum number of licences that should be granted.

But they are also urged to consider an alternative to placing a restriction on the number of hackney carriage licences issued by the council by changing the existing hackney carriage licence conditions or vehicle specification.

For example, the specification could be changed so all vehicles have to meet a certain exhaust emissions standard.

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This would tie in with European Union directives in respect of normal cars that require all new vehicles to be compliant with relevant standards by a certain date.

And the licensing conditions could be changed in respect of the age of vehicles. The current conditions are that, on licensing, the age of the vehicle shall not exceed five years unless it's been passed as being in exceptionally good condition.

And the condition, in respect of how long the vehicle can be licensed, is that the age of the vehicle shall not exceed 10 years unless it's in exceptionally good condition.

Steve Royal, secretary of the Norwich Hackney Trade Association, said: 'If the council does agree to bring in those conditions that may resolve the issue. It could well do, but we will have to wait and see what happens at next week's meeting. Anything that is going to reduce the number of black cabs in Norwich has got to be welcomed.'

Fares for Hackney carriages, which are the taxis you can 'flag down' at a taxi rank or off the street, are set by the city council.

The city council also licences private hire vehicles, which have to be pre-booked.

There are 335 private hire vehicles in Norwich, but they are not part of the review.

Have you been making a living as a taxi driver after been made redundant or becoming unemployed? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email