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Chipping away at our livelihood
10:11am Friday 30th March 2012 in News
TAXI drivers fear they could be forced off the road for having just eight tiny stone chips on their cars.
Under new measures proposed by Test Valley Borough Council hackney carriages and private hire vehicles should not have eight or more such chips of any size – damage that some drivers claimed could be sustained on one journey.
Drivers said measures could put some out of business.
The council said that the new conditions, which are currently under consultation, were based on national guidelines.
Andy Lupton, owner of Nightingale Cars of Romsey, a private hire vehicle company, said: “It’s ridiculous. Everyone is generally incredulous.
He said he supported the broad aim that vehicles should be clean and smart but claimed the the proposals went to “barmy” extremes.
Under the proposed conditions vehicles should not have: * Five or more stone chips greater than 2mm in length * Eight or more stone chips of any size * Any scratches, cracks or abrasions where the top layer of paint has been removed.
* Two or more dents more than 1cm in length * Four or more dents less than 1cm in length Mr Lupton said if a car had more than eight stone chips it may need a total respray which could cost up to £2,000.
“Financially it would just be awful,” he said. “It makes it impossible to run a business.
“Common sense needs to be applied.”
He said he intends to send an objection to the council.
Ivor Williams, a private hire driver for Romsey firm Samtax, said he could have a brand new car but on the way to Andover for taxi licence plating inspection, he could go through roadworks and arrive with a car carrying enough tiny chips and dents to fail.
“It doesn’t affect the safety or the comfort, it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever,” he said.
“They’re going to be putting more drivers off the road because they won’t be able to afford the repairs - times are hard enough as it with fuel going up.”
Mr Lupton questioned how the measures would be implemented fairly and how the council would define exactly what a dent or stone chip was.
A spokesman for the National Taxi Association said: “Whilst the cosmetic look of a vehicle is obviously important, I would suggest it is of significantly less importance than ensuring the vehicle is in good mechanical order.”
A spokeswoman for Test Valley Borough Council said: “The aim of the proposed draft guidelines is to provide a standard for the exterior and interior of the vehicle to ensure that as well as being carried safely, passengers are provided with a clean and comfortable environment.
“When a vehicle is inspected as part of the licensing process, these factors will be taken into consideration in assessing the overall suitability of the vehicle.”
TVBC said the proposals had come about after a “noticable increase in the number of older vehicles that are presented for licensing”.
The consultation ends on April 27. If the new conditions are adopted they would come into force in April 2013.