Edinburgh taxi drivers blast council over planters blocking city centre rank
Cabbies have blasted Edinburgh City Council after large plant beds installed outside a restaurant have blocked a busy taxi rank.
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Furious drivers have asked the council to remove the planters which are taking up at least half of the taxi rank outside The Ivy restaurant on St Andrew Square.
Union officials have accused the council of taking away much-needed space for taxis without consulting them while the trade continues to be hit hard by the pandemic.
It has also sparked fears that other ranks across the city could be closed, using powers under the spaces for people programme.
A picture of the planters posted on twitter by Unite Edinburgh cab branch provoked strong reaction with some branding it ‘unbelievable’.
It comes after drivers held a demonstration outside Edinburgh Castle last week warning of a shortage of nightshift drivers as hospitality reopened, claiming many have been forced out of the trade due to financial pressures.
Drivers welcomed a discretionary payment from the city council this month, but have repeated calls for a £10,000 grant for owner operators who have to fork out more than £1000 every month in operating costs alone.
A spokesperson for Unite Edinburgh cab branch said: "They have taken away half the space at this rank and not asked us. With the downturn in trade we need everything in our arsenal to recover. When they surveyed the rank obviously it would have been quiet, nothing was open then. There is a notice up at the rank of a parking bay suspension order.
"Only two cars can use at a time with these big planters. I know more than 2 cars need to access this rank at a time now with things opening up again. If we double park near waiting to access the rank we could get a ticket. A parking warden threatened me with one yesterday.
"We’ve really struggled this past year. I’ve been in the trade fifteen years now and I own my vehicle. It’s crazy, when you think that our licencing fees pay for maintenance of the ranks. We just feel we are being walked over again with this.
"And we have serious concerns it could happen in other places. There’s a rank up on George IV bridge which has been removed under spaces for people. We would ask these planters to be removed. We need access to help service the public, we can provide safe travel and need our ranks to be able to do so.”
In a recent survey the city council said they found the rank wasn’t being used.
A council spokesperson said: “We’ve retained space for taxis to stop at this location, but some of this space is needed to support hospitality businesses reopening today. There are alternative ranks available at Waverley Bridge, North St Andrew Street , George Street and Market Street.
“We will also be creating a feeder rank nearby following discussions with the taxi trade. These will be implemented as soon as possible, and we will continue to monitor the situation.”