Bristol is desperately in need of a truly Libertarian spirit on its local council.
Back in 2008, the council decided that the self employed taxi drivers who ply their trade running tourists round the city were in need of more regulations.
It was not enough that the drivers had all been forced to buy new and more expensive larger vehicles – which have ensured that the 900 drivers between them consume around 270,000 extra gallons of fuel each year – just in case a wheelchair user arrived at Temple Meads station and suffered the utter humiliation of the first cab at the rank not being large enough to comfortably accommodate their wheelchair.
They then decided that all these new vehicles were the wrong colour to give them that ‘New York’ iconic image of taxi rankdom. In future all taxis were to be repainted ‘Bristol Blue’? Yes, the vehicles the self-employed drivers had just bought.
Surely they don’t have the means to insist on this? But they do – for long ago they passed a by-law saying that you had to comply with council regulations in order to hold a taxi-drivers licence. They simply inserted ‘must be colour Bristol Blue’ in the regulations.
So keen are they on a uniform image – that they will accept five different versions of Bristol Blue. [Ed. ???] The cost of a respray is estimated at £4,000 – and one assumes that they wouldn’t be too happy with a hand-painted job. This is in addition to the two to three weeks the drivers will be off the road whilst the work is carried out.
The taxi drivers tried to force a judicial review of this decision, but having just bought new vehicles, found that they couldn’t muster the finance to mount the legal challenge.
The council, which has already stopped drivers using ‘advertising skins’ which cover the whole vehicle, has suggested that they use ‘Bristol Blue’ skins instead…..but working in association with “Unite and Destination Bristol, have devised the Gold Standard in recognition of the importance that high quality taxi and private drivers make to the city, its residents and its visitors. As well as literacy and numeracy skills, map reading and other transport aspects the course focuses particularly on passenger care and meeting the needs of disabled passengers.”
The training programme consists of a short taught course leading to a BTEC qualification. In addition drivers are assessed as they do their work – these assessments, along with the knowledge and understanding gained in the BTEC sessions, will entitle the driver to receive a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving. Drivers who complete both the BTEC and the NVQ then receive their Gold Standard certificate.
There are less than seven weeks to go until the deadline, only 332 of the 799 registered in the city have been painted the right colour. Which leaves 467 cars in need of a respray in the next 45 days; more than 10 per day, including weekends.
Does someone on the Lib-Dem dominated council have a relative in the respray business?