‘TRALEE COULD LOSE ONE IN FIVE TAXIS’

TRALEE TAXI AS­SO­CI­A­TION WARNS NEW RANKS WILL HAVE DEV­AS­TAT­ING IM­PACT

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By SI­MON BROUDER

THE Tralee Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion has warned that one in five lo­cal taxi driv­ers could be forced out of busi­ness within a year as a re­sult of new Taxi Rank bye-laws ap­proved by Tralee Mu­nic­i­pal District’s coun­cil­lors last Fri­day.

Taxi driv­ers had called for a rank on Denny Street – backed by a pe­ti­tion signed by over 1,200 peo­ple – but this pro­posal was not put be­fore coun­cil­lors, who could make only mi­nor ad­just­ments be­fore ap­prov­ing eight new full and part-time ranks in the town cen­tre.

The Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion say that the new rank sys­tem will have a dis­as­trous im­pact on their mem­bers’ liveli­hoods and could force as many as 20 of the town’s roughly 100 driv­ers out of work in 12 months.

There has al­ready been one high pro­file ca­su­alty. On Mon­day, Chair­man of the Tralee Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion, Terry Boyle, an­nounced he was quit­ting the busi­ness – af­ter 26 years – as a di­rect re­sult of the new bye-laws.

Kerry County Coun­cil said “there is no ev­i­dence that the bye-laws will re­sult in job losses”.

THE Tralee Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion has warned that one in five lo­cal taxi driv­ers could be forced out of busi­ness within a year as a re­sult of new Taxi Rank ar­range­ments for the town cen­tre which were ap­proved by coun­cil­lors on Fri­day.

At a special meet­ing on Fri­day af­ter­noon Tralee Mu­nic­i­pal District Coun­cil­lors for­mally ap­proved the lo­ca­tion of new 24-hour and night-only taxi ranks in the town cen­tre.

De­spite de­mands for a rank on Denny Street this was not in­cluded in the for­mal pro­posal that was put be­fore the coun­cil­lors for a vote. As such the coun­cil­lors were not in a po­si­tion to con­sider a rank on the town’s main street.

They were how­ever able to make a mi­nor ad­just­ment to the pro­posal that will see two ad­di­tional 24-hour taxi spa­ces at Bridge Street, these will be lo­cated di­rectly in front of Shaws Depart­ment Store and in front of ‘Small’ Ben­ners hard­ware shop.

A rank on Denny Street was not in­cluded in the pro­posal de­spite fer­vent de­mand from lo­cal taxi driv­ers which was sup­ported by a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of busi­nesses and over 1,200 mem­bers of the pub­lic.

Ahead of Fri­day’s meet­ing Tralee Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion pre­sented 1,386 signed sub­mis­sions from the pub­lic back­ing their calls for a rank on Denny Street.

There were doubts about the le­git­i­macy of around 125 of these signed stan­dard let­ters but coun­cil man­age­ment ac­knowl­edged that at least 1,200 were def­i­nitely gen­uine sub­mis­sions.

Mem­bers of Tralee Cham­ber Al­liance also backed the Denny Street Rank pro­posal. Of 63 mem­bers who re­sponded to a TCA sur­vey on the pro­posed pedes­tri­an­i­sa­tion of The Mall 32 said they were on favour of a taxi rank on Denny Street.

The Tralee Traf­fic Strat­egy de­signed by trans­port planning con­sul­tancy MVA an pub­lished in 2010 rec­om­mended a rank on Denny Street but this was re­moved from the Tralee traf­fic re­de­vel­op­ment plan fol­low­ing ob­jec­tions from some town cen­tre traders.

Mem­bers of the Tralee Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion have said they are “dis­ap­pointed but not sur­prised” by the coun­cil­lors’ de­ci­sion and crit­i­cised the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process as ‘far­ci­cal’.

The As­so­ci­a­tion has warned that the new rank sys­tem will have a dis­as­trous im­pact on their mem­bers’ busi­ness and could see many of them forced out of work.

“The adop­tion of these byelaws will lead to job losses and there will be a re­duc­tion in the taxi fleet of at least 20 ve­hi­cles in the next 12 months,” said the As­so­ci­a­tion.

Such a re­duc­tion would rep­re­sent al­most one in five of the roughly 100 taxi driv­ers cur­rently op­er­at­ing in Tralee.

The As­so­ci­a­tion added that the new ranks would be es­pe­cially prob­lem­atic for non-na- tional driv­ers who “don’t have a busy phone trade and are hugely de­pen­dent on a work­able taxi rank.”

There has al­ready been one high pro­file ca­su­alty.

On Mon­day – just three days af­ter the vote on the new ranks – Chair­man of the Tralee Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion Terry Boyle an­nounced he was quit­ting the busi­ness af­ter 26 years as a taxi driver.( see story left)

The new taxi ranks were ap­proved unan­i­mously by the seven Tralee coun­cil­lors present at for Fri­day’s vote. Cllr Jim Fin­u­cane (FG) was ab­sent due to a fam­ily be­reave­ment. Cllr Pat McCarthy (FG) was also ab­sent for the vote.

Man­age­ment at Kerry County Coun­cil re­futed the sug­ges­tion the new rank bye-laws will cost jobs stat­ing in a re­sponse to the Taxi As­so­ci­a­tion that “there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of these byelaws will re­sult in job losses.”

The new look re­fur­bished Mall which is to re­main pedes­tri­anised.

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