Hartlepool taxis to stay yellow - drivers vow to 'stand up, scream and shout' over suggested change

Hartlepool’s taxis are to stay their trademark yellow after council chiefs sided with the majority over a mooted colour change.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 4:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 5:51 pm
Taxi rank, Station Approcah, Hartlepool.

A consultation was launched earlier this year in regards to changes its Taxi Licensing Policy, which included exploring the potential of moving to white, black or silver hackney carriages.

However the consultation found the majority of both hackney carriage owners and residents in the town wanted the yellow taxis to remain, leading to council officers recommending the colour stayed the same

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Licensing Committee unanimously approved the recommended policy, despite claims from some hackney carriage owners it put an unnecessary cost on drivers respraying their vehicles yellow.

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Coun Tony Richardson, chairing the committee, said: “Having considered all matters, the Licensing Committee believe that to retain the yellow is not an unnecessary burden on business but is instead a balanced approach to promote the protection of the public.”

During the consultation, 61% of the 93 hackney carriage owners who responded said they would prefer Hartlepool’s colour scheme to remain yellow, with 15% wanting change.

‘Stand up, scream and shout’

Stephen Picton, hackney carriage driver in Hartlepool, explained most drivers want the vehicles to remain yellow.

He said: “I’ve been a taxi hackney carriage driver in this town for about 25 years, and in them 25 years I’ve always driven in yellow.

“When you get a firm that comes into town on their high horse and wants to change the colour of the taxi we do stand up, we scream and shout.

“It’s our choice for them to be yellow, it always has been and everybody in this town from a child to a pensioner can point out a taxi in this town.

“When you’re out for a drink you’re zombied towards a yellow cab.

“We don’t mind paying the £250 to spray a brand new car or a second hand car yellow because we’ve been doing it for the last 20 years, we’ve never gone to the council and complained about it.”

In a council on-line survey, 71% of the 827 members of the public who responded said they wanted Hartlepool’s hackney carriages to stay yellow.

The initial request to change the colour came from a letter from a private hire operator and a petition from hackney carriage vehicle owners that collectively represented a total of 60 hackney carriages.

However during the consultation several changed their mind, and 21 of the 33 vehicle owners who signed the petition for the colour change now want yellow to remain.

The cost of respraying

David Wilson, from Blueline Taxis, had argued for the change to a manufacturer standard colour to save on respraying costs, which he said could be up to £1,800.

Council officers noted the majority of cars across the fleet are second hand therefore would have to be resprayed regardless, as owners would prioritise other issues when purchasing a car.

Mr Wilson said: “Respraying vehicles comes at an unnecessary cost, it doesn’t matter whether it’s £220 or £1,800.

“This is not something for a democratic vote, it’s not a beauty contest, it’s not a matter of civic pride, it’s a matter of regulatory burdens.

“I don’t believe there is any justification for believing that the majority of vehicles would have to be resprayed, the evidence from elsewhere is that vehicle proprietors buy vehicles that are the right colour.

“Vehicle colour is only one of a number of means of identifying hackney carriages, there are other identifying features.”

Several hackney carriage owners noted the respray costs could be as little as £220, while a change to a manufacturers standard colour could lead to vehicles of that colour increasing in price when taxi drivers are looking to buy.

Councillors also raised concerns changing the colour could impact vulnerable people in the town and those with disabilities.

Coun Amy Prince said: “You’ve got to think about people with disabilities, people know yellow cars are friendly and you can just get into a yellow car and get home.

“I think that changing the colour really threatens our vulnerable people in Hartlepool.”