Driver told his 28-year-old Volvo can no longer be used as a taxi

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56 23 June 2020

John Winlow with his 28-year-old Volvo - which Ipswich Borough Council says is too old to be used as a taxi. Picture: JOHN WINLOW

John Winlow with his 28-year-old Volvo - which Ipswich Borough Council says is too old to be used as a taxi. Picture: JOHN WINLOW


It has been a “good and reliable” runner for nearly three decades - but now John Winlow has been told he can no longer use his 28-year-old Volvo as a taxi, because it is too old.

Mr Winlow has kept hold of the J-registered Volvo 940 GL for the last 18 years of his 44-year career.

In that time, he could’ve changed his vehicle for something more up-to-date and with modern touches, such as a built-in sat nav or Apple CarPlay.

However, he has elected to keep the car on the road because it is comfortable to drive and continues to be reliable and requiring low maintenance.

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Yet now, Ipswich Borough Council has refused his application to retain the taxi licence on his car before it expires on June 30, citing environmental grounds.

Current council rules state taxi drivers’ vehicles must be no more than 15 years old, before the limit reduces to 10 years in 2025.

It is all part of a bid to help improve air quality in the town, due to high levels of the pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).

Mr Winlow hopes to appeal the decision, arguing the car should be exempt from the rules because it is historically significant - an argument supported by Ipswich Transport Museum.

The 64-year-old said: “People realised these are good and reliable cars so they became a popular choice among taxi drivers.

“I’d say at one point maybe 75% of taxis and private hire vehicles were Volvos – they are part of the town’s history.

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“It has always been a good and reliable car for me – I feel just as comfortable sitting in the driver’s seat today as I did when I first bought it.

“Customers are always giving me positive comments about the car too. Even people who know nothing about cars appreciate it.”

In a committee meeting on Wednesday, June 17, councillors recognised the vehicle remains in good condition – except for a small amount of rust which is due to be repaired – but remained concerned over emissions.

One councillor, Stephen Connolly, said: “I’m sure that the owner of this vehicle considers it special, but I do not.

“It is a Volvo, it is an old Volvo and therefore its emissions would be substantially greater than a newer vehicle.”

Mr Winlow added: “The main point they made is about emissions – but Volvos were well known to be ahead of their time. It has a catalytic converter and emissions have always been low when tested.

“I don’t want to go down the new vehicle route – someone has offered to buy my licence if it has to come down to that, but I could also go into pre-booked private hire and keep the car.

“It is such a difficult time to be a taxi driver.”

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