Taxi company boss concerns after hits to driver numbers and bookings

A cab from Manor Cars waiting on Market Hill Sudbury this Christmas

A cab from Manor Cars waiting on Market Hill Sudbury this Christmas - Credit: Manor Cars

Driver shortages and a drop off in bookings has seen the boss of a Sudbury taxi company warn if business remains bad there will be a further knock on effect on those using its services.

Patrick Crew, of the private hire company, Manor Cars said that in the Babergh area more than 200 drivers have left the industry, an issue that is being seen nationwide.

Mr Crew said: "The last 18 months to two years has been difficult, certainly during the first lockdown, where a lot of drivers weren't getting any bookings in the evenings at all.

"We only started to see a proper recovery back in summer, once lockdown had officially ceased.

"A lot of the guys in the industry just left, they've got other jobs or some of the semi retired guys have just retired full stop, so apart from covid, there's also a shortage of drivers."

The announcement of Plan B brought cancellations "left, right and centre", said Mr Crew as the company felt the impact on the travel and hospitality industries. 

He said: "If restaurants start losing bookings, it has a knock on effect on us. We've seen a 30-40% drop in bookings, similar to the restaurant industry.

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In lockdown drivers accessed SEISS (Self Employment Income Support Scheme) grants which finished when the government's furlough schemed ended with self-employed workers wondering where they can get support.

Mr Crew continued: "Private hire is not just taking people to pubs.  We do a hell of a lot of airport runs, and with the travel business being hit, that's dropped off too. 

"We end up relying on the more local bookings, which is taking staff to and from venues, or in a lot of cases moving people to and from care homes."

He added that a lot of women rely on taxis to take them to work: "Think about it logically, if you're a female worker, even with a short journey, you're not going to want to walk in the dark.

"We move an awful lot of care workers, the sector is probably the biggest around Sudbury and Cornard now, with around 60 homes of different types.

"What I'm saying is, if we lose drivers, we'll lose the ability to move these people around, and if drivers see their earnings go down, then they'll get another job."