Blackburn taxi driver sees red over cab colour rule

This Is Lancashire: Charles Oakes with his cab Charles Oakes with his cab

A TAXI boss is threatening to take Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to court over its ‘ridiculous’ refusal to licence his white car as a hackney taxi which can pick up customers from the street.

This week, the borough’s licensing committee confirmed its policy that all hackney carriages, other than two specified ‘London taxi cab’ designs, must be black.

This means Charles Oakes’ white ‘Eurocab’ Peugeot E7 must be repainted, or licensed as a private hire vehicle, only entitled to carry pre-booked fares.

The council’s environment boss Arshid Mahmood is expected to confirm the decision in the next few weeks.

If so, Mr Oakes, who chairs the Bolton-based Hackney Carriage Association, said he will take the council to court twice, firstly over refusing the licensing application and secondly, at the High Court in Manchester, asking for a judicial review of the whole policy.

If the council loses the cases, it could be landed with a bill of more than £10,000.

The committee was asked to review the policy of black-only for vehicles not the shape of the traditional TX1 London cab or its ‘Metrocab’ replacement successor after Mr Oakes threatened legal action.

It consulted members of the Blackburn Taxi Association, which includes the majority of the town’s cab drivers, who have ‘no significant objection to the colour scheme’.

In a letter, the council’s solicitor told Mr Oakes’ lawyer that it had ‘a clear statutory authority to implement measures which it considers reasonably necessary so that hackney carriages are clearly identifiable by the public’.

Mr Oakes said: “This decision is bizarre. It is ridiculous, especially as some of the borough’s private hire vehicles are black.

“Why does a Blackburn taxi have to be black? They are different colours elsewhere. You can license a taxi of any colour in Bolton.

“Blackburn with Darwen Council is stuck in the past.

“They underestimate the public who can tell the difference between a taxi and a private hire vehicle.

“I just want to licence a white taxi cab in Blackburn with Darwen.

“If the council does not change its mind, I shall take it to court.”

Blackburn Taxi Assocsiation driver Mohammed Riaz said: “We are happy with the council’s policy.”

A Blackburn with Darwen council spokesman said: “After careful consideration, members decided to recommend to reaffirm the current policy on colour in hackney carriages to the executive member for environment.”

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