An illegal taxi rank operating on King’s Road is capitalising on picking up ‘vulnerable customers’ after a night out, according to a Harrogate taxi company.
Central Taxis have claimed that, for 12 years, taxis have formed an illegal rank outside of Bambinos take-away on King’s Road to pick up customers at the end of their night out.
Kevin O’Boyle, who owns Central Taxis, has warned that it could just be ‘a matter of time’ before there was a ‘serious accident’ as a result.
He has also called on Harrogate Borough Council and the Night Marshalls to do more to prevent the illegal rank and punish drivers who continue to break the rules.
He said: “Hackney carriages are allowed to apply for hire on a rank or can be flagged down whilst moving. A taxi cannot form an illegal rank or approach people on a street or shout for business.
“There is an illegal taxi rank on Kings Road. The council may say they have got Night Marshalls doing what they should be doing but this is going on right in front of them.
“It’s a good spot to pick people up because they are vulnerable at that time of night, but if you are getting in this taxi then you are not insured because it’s not a flag down and it’s not a rank.”
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for highways and road safety, Coun Don Mackenzie, said a new taxi rank on Parliament Street would be created later this year to ‘ease the situation’.
However Mr O’Boyle described the rank as the council ‘taking the easy option’ and said it would not solve the problem as taxis would still wait there to pick up customers from the take-away.
Coun Mackenzie said: “There will be a trial period for a new taxi rank of up to seven taxis on the left-hand side of Parliament Street, close to the entrance of the Turkish Baths.
“In previous years when I worked in transport for Harrogate, I have always rejected a taxi rank there on the basis that it could create noise and anti-social behaviour.
“However, there has been a shift in recent years of night time activity towards the bottom of Parliament Street so we want a taxi rank that will get people away from Harrogate quickly and safely.”
Coun Mackenzie said he was aware of a problem of taxis parking on double yellow lines and picking passengers up.
Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) said that they hoped the creation of a new taxi rank on Parliament Street would provide a ‘better system’ for taxis to pick up customers.
A spokesperson for HBC said: “Harrogate Borough Council acknowledges that the Kings Road area in Harrogate is very busy at times during the early hours of a weekend.
“To ensure that drivers are observing the rules, and are not just hanging around in the hope of finding a customer, the Night Marshals are currently challenging drivers.
“Any problems are reported to an enforcement officer for investigation. Enforcement action will be taken where it can be evidenced that rules are being broken.”