September 2 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, March 6, 2014
People with mobility problems may face a walk to pick up taxis after traffic restrictions were tightened up on a Suffolk street.
Cab drivers had been under the impression that they could pick up and drop off disabled passengers along Woodbridge’s restricted Thoroughfare.
But they have now been told their vehicles are not exempt from a ban on traffic between peak trading hours of 10am and 4pm.
The full scope of restrictions became clear after police contacted the county council for verification on the wording of a traffic regulation order dating back to 1995. They were told that the only exemptions were for residents, and for disabled drivers on Tuesday and Thursday.
Jon Watsham, who runs M&R Cars, said passengers with disabilities were likely to suffer as a result. “This is affecting our business and means we are not able to provide certain customers the service that they have become used to,” he added. “Our elderly and disabled customers are forced to struggle to meet the taxi at an area where vehicles are allowed.
“This can be a lengthy walk for somebody that is unsteady on their feet and this is surely the reason for a disabled badge.”
Suffolk County Council is understood to be considering an amendment to the regulation order which would give access to taxis - a move supported by Suffolk Coastal District Council, which said taxis provided a vital service for disabled customers unable to walk to specific pick up points, and for those unable to use public transport.
Woodbridge county councillor Caroline Page said: “I think that, due to the circumstances, there had been a blind-eye policy for taxis, but that cases of other vehicles disobeying regulations had recently been brought to the attention of police.
“It is unfortunate for people who may struggle, and I will urge the town council, police and highways to get together and find the best way to solve the problem. It may be that one or two taxis can be authorised to carry disabled passengers. We need a pragmatic solution.”
The traffic order was originally brought in to make the Thoroughfare a more pleasant area to shop and spend time.