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Colchester CCTV in taxi cabs row could be resolved

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:00 21 September 2018

Cllr Mike Lilley  Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

Cllr Mike Lilley Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

Controversial plans for CCTV cameras to be installed in all taxis and private hire vehicles operating in Colchester are out for consultation.

Colchester taxi driver David Hill is against CCTV in cabs.Colchester taxi driver David Hill is against CCTV in cabs."My personal view is it is expensive and unnecessary. A lot of people are against it."

Proposals to install CCTV cameras in all taxi and private high vehicles operating in Colchester have been opposed by owners and drivers in the town.

The borough council plans have been opposed by many drivers and taxi operators over the high cost - but now a compromise may be on the way.

Taxi and limousine drivers are the most likely workers to die a violent death on the job, a CDC report has shown. Compared to other workers, they have an increased risk of such deaths because they work with cash, with the public, alone and during nighttime hours.

In order to help safeguard taxi drivers, as well as the public when disputes arise, Colchester Borough Council, the licensing authority, is planning to update its policies to include more rules.

One key element is introducing compulsory CCTV in all cabs next year. But the town’s drivers and owners are up in arms.

Clive Woolgar of Five Sevens Taxis in Colchester said: “The drivers are 100% against the council system. It is the main topic every day in the office.

“We are not against CCTV.I have it in my cab and my son has put his in two years ago. It does protect the driver, if he gets a complaint against him he can prove what happened.

“But drivers don’t want to spend nearly £600 on a council system with CBC in the car, which the driver has no access to.

“You can pick up a CCTV system for £70 and get it installed for another £30, that is £100.”

Colchester councillor Mike Lilley, whose responsibilities include planning, public safety and licensing, said: “We are out to consultation on these changes and getting feedback.

“CCTV is something all the drivers, Hackney cabs and private hire, agree it is a good idea.

“It does protect the driver, as well as the public. If there is a dispute, CCTV would allow us to investigate.

“There are occasions where passengers run off without paying, or drivers are abused, and it would provide evidence.”

Cllr Lilley added that the problem for the owners and the drivers is the cost of up to £500 for the system which was recommend to the authority.

“Some drivers already have CCTV,” he said. “We have listened to them. I think we will change the policy so we can allow the drivers and owners to buy the system that they want, so long as it does conform, and that it is a HD system we can use to prosecute.”

The current taxi licensing policy dates back to 2007. Other proposals include mandatory safeguarding training for all drivers.

And, for the environment, there is a new requirement for all drivers to switch off their engines when waiting in one of the borough’s air quality management areas.

Along the road in Ipswich, cab and taxi drivers are allowed to have CCTV, so long as it is a make approved by the council.

But there are no plans for a compulsory system.

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