Blue taxi skin could save drivers money
By Fleet People | Thursday, August 12, 2010, 09:00
A cheaper alternative to re-spraying has been suggested as a way of solving the ongoing row over Bristol blue taxis.
The idea of putting a new “skin” on the vehicle was suggested by Bristol City Council’s solicitor, ahead of a hearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court to decide whether forcing hackney carriage drivers to change the colour of their vehicles is fair.
Three drivers appeared at court yesterday as part of the trade’s legal battle against the council. Stephen Sully, Gulaid Nagan and John Newcombe are the first of the city’s 780 hackney carriage drivers who are challenging the authority’s insistence on a uniform livery.
The council has said it will not accept one as a test case, so potentially every driver could lodge similar appeals.
The case was adjourned until October so the taxi drivers could provide a proper explanation of the legal grounds for their appeal.
Speaking after the hearing, the drivers’ solicitor, Antony Schiller, said: “We are appealing on the basis of fairness, the council should look at every individual case and not have a blanket rule. A driver in his 60s, for example, would still have to pay around £2,000, and it wouldn’t be worth it. That’s unfair.”
Two years ago, the authority announced all of its hackney carriages had to be painted blue by next May, to provide a familiar city image like the famous yellow taxis in New York. With less than nine months to go, only 140 of the fleet have been changed, and if the rest do not follow suit they would lose their licenses when they come up for renewal.
The drivers tried to overturn the policy in the High Court last year but failed.
The council is hoping to avoid fighting 780 appeals in the magistrates’ court, and has suggested a new service run by a private company that offers to put a Bristol Blue “skin” over the car instead of a re-spray. Depending on the type of vehicle, re-sprays have been estimated by drivers as costing anywhere from £1,500 to as much £4,000, whereas the “skin” only costs £695, but is only guaranteed to last five years.
Council spokeswoman Vicky O’Loughlin said: “We have chosen this blue as part of supporting the image of Bristol, which is also good for tourism and the taxi trade.”