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Cambridge taxis in line to get CCTV and card machines

By Paul Brackley

Taxi, the signage is a distinguished feature of the Hackney Carriage.
Taxi, the signage is a distinguished feature of the Hackney Carriage.

The changes could improve safety, but the cost is a concern for Hackney cab drivers.

Taxi drivers in Cambridge would be obliged to install CCTV cameras in their cars and accept card payments but will no longer have to carry a first aid kit or fire extinguisher, under proposals out for consultation until today, Sunday September 3.

The changes to licensing conditions would mean drivers of every Hackney Carriage vehicle in the city would have to install a camera, keep it locked and make it accessible only to police and the licensing authority.

Paul Bradley, vice-chair of the Cambridge Hackney and Private Hire Association, said: “The council may mandate inward-facing cameras only but if we had to pay I think many drivers would get outward as well.

“I first suggested it four years ago. I was concerned about the racial abuse of some drivers and we had some windows smashed.

“I am in favour of it for the drivers’ protection and equally for the public. It would make Hackney Carriage taxis even safer. But the main thing is the issue of cost.”

The changes would also remove the need for licensed vehicles to carry a first aid kit and fire extinguisher and alter the age limit for taxis.

Currently a vehicle won’t be granted a new taxi licence if it is over four years old and renewals are not granted for vehicles more than nine years old. The new limits would scrap the first rule but keep the second.

Taxi drivers will in future have to carry a card payment machine in their vehicle and accept debit and credit card payments if the new rules are agreed.

As the Independent previously reported, introducing a new taxi livery requirement is also proposed – potentially using the Cambridge Blue colour – which could help the public distinguish between Hackney Carriage vehicles and private hire cars.

“The drivers we’ve spoken to are against the livery,” said Paul. “The cost would start at £700. Even if it was Cambridge blue with pink polka dots, what’s the point? The public will get into anything.”

There could also be a change to the policy to allow rear-loading for wheelchairs, instead of side-loading only. The results of the consultation will be considered by the city council’s licensing committee on October 16.

In a separate consultation also closing at midnight on Sunday, the city proposes a rise of 1.7 per cent to fares, which means a 10p increase on the base fare across all tariffs, plus an additional charge of £1 for carrying bikes that can’t go in the boot.

For details of how to respond to the consultations, visit cambridge.gov.uk.


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