Cab drivers' fears for the future

TOWN chiefs have come under fire for licensing too many taxi drivers amid claims the market is saturated and earnings are plummeting.Cabbie Fred Day, 50, who has been driving in Ipswich for the past 20 years, said the situation over the past couple of years has become so bad he now earns an average of less than £30 a day.

TOWN chiefs have come under fire for licensing too many taxi drivers amid claims the market is saturated and earnings are plummeting.

Cabbie Fred Day, 50, who has been driving in Ipswich for the past 20 years, said the situation over the past couple of years has become so bad he now earns an average of less than £30 a day.

He said the figure is around half the £60 a day he could earn just a few years ago and blames an uncontrolled surge in new drivers.

Mr Day said: “It's almost poverty. I have been working in cabs now for 22 years and we are now at a point where the council is just licensing new drivers as it sees fit.


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“I start at 5am and work until 4pm, five days a week, but on any given day I am lucky to clear £30.

“I am seriously thinking of packing it in as things are getting that bad.

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“I think the taxi trade in the town will fall apart if something doesn't happen to curb the number of drivers coming in to the system.”

Taxi operator Eric Pearl, 60, who runs 417 Beeline, said the situation has got noticeably worse in recent years.

He said: “My principle concern is the way the licensing procedures seem to have gone downhill.

“There used to be quite a difficult knowledge test but that no longer seems to be the case.”

It is understood that part of the reason for the surge in numbers is an increasing number of foreign nationals taking up work in the trade.

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said the council cannot impose limits on the number of people licensed to drive private hire taxis but will issue licences if vehicle and operator meet the standards.

Meanwhile the council insists any new hackney carriage operators must provide wheelchair access and there has been a small increase in numbers over recent years.

n. Are you a taxi driver affected by a drop in earnings? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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