Kettering cabbie hits out at town centre street rule change
Taxi drivers can now only travel through Newland Street at night-time
A Kettering taxi driver says the decision to ban cabbies from using a town centre street during the day makes no sense.
For years Newland Street, used by many as a rat-run, has been a pedestrian zone with buses and taxis allowed to travel through it at all hours.
Since bus gateway roadworks were completed last month new rules and signs have been in place, warning taxi drivers they are now only permitted to drive through it between the hours of 8pm and 8am.
It means many shoppers who would usually be picked up outside popular stores including Iceland, Wilko and Specsavers will now have to be picked from designated bays in nearby Gold Street instead or elsewhere in town.
But cabbie Jon Lott, from Premier Taxis, said: "A lot of our passengers are either elderly or in a wheelchair - how are they supposed to walk to Gold Street carrying six bags of shopping?"
Newland Street is now classed as a pedestrian and cycle zone with buses and loading vehicles allowed to drive through it.
Taxis, who previously had 24-hour usage of the street, are now restricted to 12 hours at times where virtually no shoppers will be there.
Mr Lott said stopping at Iceland will add about 40p to a passenger's fare as a result of the rule change, adding that one of their private hire drivers once got six points and a £100 fine for driving their taxi through Newland Street.
He said: "People are still using it as a rat-run but they're only doing it now when there's nobody around to police it.
"Stopping taxis going through during the day makes no difference and no sense. I just don't understand it."
A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council said: “Highways works in Newland Street, Kettering, have now been completed, improving access for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Proposals for the rejuvenation of Newland Street had been prepared over a number of years, working with businesses in the location to develop the scheme, including taking into account delivery times for retailers.
“The restriction of vehicles accessing Newland Street was implemented as a safety improvement as the route had been used as a rat-run.
“Shoppers accessing the Newland Centre are able to do so via taxi by using the designated bays in Gold Street.”