Drivers of Rugby’s licensed hackney cabs claim their income has fallen by up to a quarter since restrictions were lifted on the number of licences in the borough.
They say the number of cabs in the town has risen from 56 to more than 90 since the market was deregulated last year. These are competing to pick up fares from 13 taxi rank spaces in the town centre.
“It’s horrendous trying to make ends meet at the moment,” said George Hope, who has worked as a cabbie in Rugby for five years. “Trade is very slack on some days.
“In the last few months there has been an influx of new drivers into the town, mainly from Coventry. There are just too many taxis chasing too few fares.
“Drivers are being forced to park illegally because they don’t want to keep driving around wasting fuel until a space on a rank becomes available. As a result this is increasing traffic congestion around the town centre.”
Grev Mills, secretary of the Rugby Hackney Owners and Drivers Association, said: “Since deregulation cabbies in Rugby have experienced a loss in their income of 20 to 25 per cent across the board. Some of them are working 18 hours a day now to get the same money in.
“We’ve been shouting and screaming at the council to stop issuing licences but they say they don’t have the power to do this under the law.”
Rugby Borough Council is responsible for licensing all aspects of the hackney carriage and private hire taxi trade in the area.
A spokesman said: “Thirty-three new licences have been issued since taxi licensing was deregulated last year. The changes do not appear to have had a negative effect on the trade and taxi companies are still applying for new licences.
“We have noted that the taxi ranks are getting congested late at night. Councillors have therefore agreed to undertake a scrutiny review that will be tasked with proposing locations for new ranks to help resolve this problem.”