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TAXI MARSHALS TO STAY - FOR NOW; But permanent answer sought.

TAXI marshals are to continue to operate at a problem hot spot in Middlesbrough while fresh efforts are made to find a solution.

The marshals were introduced in Wilson Street following a decision in April by Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon.

It followed concerns about congestion between 1am and 4am at weekends because of the number of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles in the area. There were also reports of late night disorder.

The problems mainly affect the stretch of Linthorpe Road between Albert Road and Linthorpe Mews.

Boro Cars also have a taxi office on that part of the road.

Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council's executive councillor for community safety, considered a report from council officers updating the situation.

She was told that in a consultation exercise Middlesbrough Hackney Carriage Association, Hackney Carriage proprietors and drivers and Euro Cars had supported the taxi marshal scheme and wanted it to be made permanent and extended to other areas of town.

They highlighted the benefits the taxi marshals brought in organising the hackney carriage ranks, maintaining order, reducing traffic congestion and improving safety for passengers and drivers.

There were claims about deliberate interference with the trial by some drivers obstructing the hackney ranks with private hire vehicles.

They also said the council's decision to grant a licence to Boro Cars to open a private hire booking office in Wilson Street was a contributory factor to the problems.

But the Private Hire Association and Boro Cars did not support a continuation of the taxi marshal scheme, highlighting the lack of provision for private hire vehicles in Wilson Street.

"They state that they believe that one or more of the hackney carriage ranks should be removed so that they can provide a safer, more efficient service to their customers and that the taxi marshals compromise driver safety and only benefit the hackney carriage trade.

"They state that the use of taxi marshals in Wilson Street had been a costly failure and that they should be removed from Wilson Street."

The scheme costs pounds 25,000 a year to run and that cost is met of taxi licensing fees.

Tim Hodgkinson, principal licensing officer, told Cllr Rostron the Quality Taxi Partnership, made up of representatives of the hackney carriage and private hire taxi trade, had been resurrected to progress key issues. Wilson Street was the priority.

Cllr Rostron said the most responses to the consultation had backed the marshals.

She said: "I am not saying it is perfect. The Quality Taxi Partnership has started meeting again and I am happy to temporarily extend the scheme again. We have to get the Quality Taxi Partnership up and running and get the taxi trade to work together to resolve these issues."
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 10, 2012
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