Nov 212013

TaxifeatFrom the comfort of the driving seat, taxi driver Fin Hall offers a street level view at issues affecting transport and infrastructure in Aberdeen.

The present incumbents of the council chambers show no sign of letting up in their pursuit of power and control, while making the city look ridiculous.

They started off as soon as they won the election by overturning the result of the UTG referendum, and yes, I know the weighted arguments behind it, and I would have voted “no” if I had been eligible to vote.

Then they continued by overturning almost every decision that the previous city leaders had implemented.

One of these was the building of the replacement stadium for Aberdeen Football Club at Loirston.

Now whether this would have been the ideal place for the ground is an argument for another day, although I suspect the majority of fans think it is the wrong place; but permission had already been given.

Meanwhile, on all the available land beside where the new stadium would have been, there are hundreds of new houses being built and loads of new offices and industrial premises. Considering that the reason given for the final blocking of the stadium plans was access, it borders on the insane that all that other building is going ahead.

It could, and most probably will, cause more congestion and traffic flow problems at least 5 days a week, whereas the football traffic would have been once very two weeks at the most.

The next act of lunacy that our city fathers have pushed through is that, by June 2017, all taxis in Aberdeen will have to be wheelchair accessible.

They are doing this under the banner of the Equality Act. What it will in fact do is make things more difficult for the average taxi passenger. As a taxi driver of more than 36 years’ experience, I can tell you that taxi companies get more requests for saloon cars than they do for wheelchair vehicles.

If you look on taxi ranks at most times, the majority of the cars are of the wheelchair-accessible type anyway.

Traffic Congestion. Picture Credit: Ian Britton. problem lies not with the amount of the appropriate type of cars, but with some of the drivers who operate such a motor vehicle.

Make no mistake, they know the rules when they come into this job.

If they are so lazy and selfish that they find any excuse not to get out of their car to assist their wheelchair-bound passenger, then their license to operate should be taken off them.

By having all cars wheelchair-friendly however, more people will be disenfranchised than will be helped. There are more people whose disability does not involve being wheelchair-bound than there are the opposite.

People with short legs, broken legs, back problems and other hindrances are totally unable to get into higher vehicles such as those that will available in a few years’ time. Some customers have already intimated to me that they will most likely be unable to go out when this comes to pass.

The only way then to get a taxi of the lower, saloon type when you come off a train or a plane, or even when you are coming home from shopping, will be to phone up and book a private hire taxi. And at peak times, usually from about 15:00 – 19:00 on weekdays, most offices are already fully booked with account customers, and don’t take in further bookings.

As to getting picked up from the station, well we all know what a farce that already is. The general pickup point from there is in from the Station Hotel, so getting to there for somebody of less mobility, complete with their suitcase is not going to be at all easy, in fact it will sometimes be impossible.

Another downside will be several drivers of an older age, who may just work off the ranks on a part-time basis, having to give up their work. The cost of these vehicles is prohibitive, they can cost as much as £28,000. This is hardly justifiable for those that may just work at the weekends.

That will leave a shortfall of taxis working the ranks at certain times.

So Aberdeen, a city which has a nationwide reputation for having the best and most comfortable taxis, will be overrun with ‘ ice cream van ‘ taxis. Gone will be your comfy ride to the airport or further, in a Mercedes or a CRV or a BMW etcetera, and instead you will rattle about on your own in the rear of an ugly uncomfortable people mover.

Sadly though, the licensing board rarely if ever listens to those with knowledge and experience of the job, and just charges ahead with ludicrous plans to satisfy its members’ already over-inflated egos.

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  6 Responses to “Road To Ruin? – The View From The Taxi”

  1. Absolutely spot on

  2. I rarely use taxis to be honest.
    At around £38 to travel to the airport from Inverurie and even more to reach the centre of Aberdeen the fares are hard to afford.
    Many folk earn minimum wage. At around £6.40 per hour taxi fares are out of the question.
    My disabled friends however often have to rely on them. My ill pals sometimes use them to attend ARI for treatment. My old mother used them when she could not climb onto a bus anymore.
    I am sure that you mean well when you say that “The next act of lunacy that our city fathers have pushed through is that, by June 2017, all taxis in Aberdeen will have to be wheelchair accessible.”
    Surely though you cannot be serious.

  3. Fin, blaming the council for the Dons’ failure to raise building capital to fund Loirston by selling Pittodrie is what the club chairman and the press want you to believe.

    Cove Rangers had had the lease for Calder Park for 12 years. They had a deadline for delivery of September 2012, less than two weeks after the council meeting of August 2012 took place. No work at all had been carried out. The council was not convinced that development was going to take place. After 12 years of inaction, was a possibility, especially given the missed deadlines. On valuable council owned (that’s me and other Council Taxpayers of Aberdeen).

    Calder Park would have provided the Dons with the second access to Loirston required by Planning. The council has said that they could start building as soon as the second access was agreed but that having taken back the lease from a club which had done nothing with it, despite assurances, negotiations would now have to be with the landowners (the council) rather than Cove, who did not appear interested in delivering to the terms of the lease. As a Dons season ticket holder in common with about 7000 others, I am also a city Council Taxpayer. My hobby should not be subsidised by poor use of commonly-owned assets, especially in these straitened times. The council has also been clear that the second access via Calder Park can be negotiated but that those negotiations would have to be with the council rather than a promise-breaking Highland League club which has had no trouble in spending money on development of a playing squad whilst continuing to play at the outdated and barely-adequate Allan Park. Both former Councillor Kate Dean and the current leader of the Council administration opposition were/are representatives of the area and appear to have made no moves to persuade Cove to fulfill their obligations.

    On the day that the council came to this decision, it also delivered on the senior coalition party’s manifesto commitment to abandon plans for UTG. The “referendum” was demonstrably “non-binding”. Could the AFC chairman’s unprofessional outburst have had more to do with his frustration at that decision and its effects on any development at Triple Kirks rather than the council’s decision to act on behalf of its taxpayers, aided by coverage and spin in a sycophantic local press?

    Where is the seed corn capital for the Loirston development from the sale of Pittodrie?

    Why have Cove Rangers remained silent?

    Why were Cove Rangers allowed to hold the lease of prime land for so long with so little action?

    A lie can travel halfway round the world before the truth has its breeks on.

  4. I don’t think the taxi service in Aberdeen is very good, I’ve often had quite bad experiences with taxi drivers. This has included being short changed by up to ten pounds and the driver driving off with my shopping still in the taxi, I personally would call this robbery.

  5. Fin, I do you drive a saloon taxi?

  6. Last night’s AGM comment that negotiations are continuing with the council over Loirston all but proves that the chairman spat the dummy over UTG at the council meeting and tried to conflate the two discrete issues, swallowed whole by the public, being misled by the local press as usual.

    It’s still the worst possible place to build a stadium as far as Dons fans are concerned but that’s a different issue.

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