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Ipswich station boycott threat by cabs leads to parking giant rethink

PUBLISHED: 16:10 19 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:56 19 February 2018

Taxi rank at Ipswich train station.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Taxi rank at Ipswich train station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Parking giant NCP has been forced to climb down after cab companies threatened to stop taking passengers to Ipswich railway station after being deluged with penalty notices for cars dropping people off at the station.

Parking regulations at Ipswich train station.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNParking regulations at Ipswich train station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Since new cameras have been installed at the station at the end of January they have been recording vehicles using the drop-off area which has a “20-minute maximum” parking zone.

However the cameras have been unable to record all movements of private hire vehicles – so a vehicle that makes several trips to the station confuses the cameras into believing it has been parked there for hours.

The largest cab company in Ipswich is Hawk Express. It has had 17 penalty notices sent to it so far – but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Director Richard Morphew said: “Those notices are only for the cars we own and operate – but most of our vehicles are driven by their owners and just hire our equipment. For every one car we own there are three owner-operated ones, so you can multiply that 17 by four to get the real figure.”

John Lloyd, driver manager, and Richard Morphew, director of Hawk Express cabs with some of the penalty notices they have received. Picture: PAUL GEATERJohn Lloyd, driver manager, and Richard Morphew, director of Hawk Express cabs with some of the penalty notices they have received. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Mark Kraft from NCP in Ipswich said there had been problems with the coverage provided by the cameras which had now become clear.

All penalty tickets issued for the drop-off area since the cameras went live would be rescinded and car owners would be contacted within the next few days.

He said: “We realised the entrance was too wide and the cameras were not picking up all the car movements. We will be installing a third camera which will provide better coverage, it will pick up 99.9% of movements.”

Two notices have been issued to Hawk Express for cars parked for 17 and 19 minutes – within the 20-minute parking limit at the drop-off point at the station.

Mr Kraft said: “We originally configured the system for a 15-minute period before realising our mistake. We thought we’d caught all the wrong notices. These will not have to be paid.”

Mr Morphew had said his company would have to start dropping off passengers outside the Station Hotel on the opposite side of Burrell Road from the station.

Mr Kraft said he hoped his assurances would ease the cab drivers’ fears: “We don’t want to collect penalty fines. We just want people to park correctly.”

Parking problems have dogged new forecourt at Ipswich railway station

Cabs and other car drivers have faced serious problems since the rebuilt Ipswich station forecourt was completed last year.

The official taxi rank in front of the station – used by Hackney Carriages to pick up and drop off casual fares – has caused serious problems because it is only wide enough for two vehicles.

This means that cars that are adapted for disabled people cannot get to the front of the queue if someone with a disability needs a ride.

The multi-storey car park operated by NCP also had serious problems with its payment machines for several months – they would not accept credit cards and passengers were having to queue up for up to 30 minutes to pay to get out before the problems were resolved by the car park company.

And there were also complaints about changes to the parking spaces for cars with disabled driver badges which left many passengers facing a long walk to the station itself.

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