Relaunch of Norwich taxi marshal scheme in Tombland
Norwich's taxi marshal scheme in Tombland will be the first self-supporting scheme in the country when it is relaunched at the end of this month.
Customers will be asked to pay �1 per cab into a ticket machine in Tombland to use the service.
The taxi marshal scheme, which costs �20,000 a year, started two years ago and was funded until December last year by local businesses, the Safer Neighbourhood partnership, Norfolk Constabulary, Norwich City Council, and, latterly, the Norwich Nightsafe Partnership fund.
But, as reported, public money for the scheme ran out and organisers want taxi customers to pay for the service by making a �1 voluntary contribution per cab journey.
Customers can then get their money refunded by showing a valid pay and display ticket to a participating venue.
Julian Foster, chairman of the Central Norwich Citizens' Forum, which is one of the partners behind the scheme, said: 'When it is relaunched on March 31 it will be the first self-supporting scheme in the country. The steering group is meeting next week to finalise the arrangements before the relaunch.'
Marshals work at the Tombland rank, which is mainly used by clubbers, between 10pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights,
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About 1,200 people in Norwich use the taxi rank every weekend, and more than 130,000 people have 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, and the marshals also provide a secure radio link to the police and CCTV and can help hackney carriage drivers in dealing with intoxicated, violent and aggressive people.
But it is not universally popular and one Norwich cabbie told the Evening News earlier this year that he might encourage customers to boycott the scheme.
Steve Royal, secretary of the Norwich Hackney Trade Association, believes taxi customers may choose other modes of transport rather than pay the �1 fee.
The 60-year-old, from Bowthorpe, said Hackney drivers would make it clear to the public that they would continue to pick up customers from the Tombland rank irrespective of whether they had paid a levy or not. He added that most would go further by actively discouraging the purchase of a ticket.
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.
What do you think of the scheme? Email reporter David Bale at firstname.lastname@example.org.