Let council keep CCTV powers to catch cheating cabbies, say Durham residents (From The Advertiser Series)
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Let council keep CCTV powers to catch cheating cabbies, say Durham residents
6:00am Monday 20th January 2014 in By Mark Tallentire, Reporter (Durham)
GOVERNMENT plans to stop councils using CCTV to catch cheating drivers have angered residents hoping to banish taxis from their area.
People living around Crossgate, Durham, want cameras installed to record taxi drivers breaking parking rules and leaving the city centre via their cobbled street, which they say creates late-night noise.
Durham County Council was keen to buy more cameras to enforce road restrictions in Durham, it has emerged.
However, the Government launched a consultation on abolishing the use of CCTV cameras for parking enforcement, meaning a report recommending buying more cameras, due before the council’s cabinet last week, was withdrawn.
The council, local councillors and residents are lobbying for the powers to be retained, ahead of the consultation closing on Friday, February 14.
Taxis in Durham city centre have been problematic since the trade was deregulated in 2011, leading to the number of cabs operating in the area rocketing.
Numerous changes to taxi ranks have been made, both around Claypath and North Road.
Last year, a long-standing North Road taxi rank outside Santander was axed in favour of one closer to the bus station.
But residents say cabbies are still parking outside Santander, meaning they then have to exit the area via Crossgate.
They want cameras installed outside Santander to catch offending cabbies in the act.
There is also continuing unrest over the arrangements around Claypath.
In 2012, the main night-time taxi rank on lower Claypath was replaced with one on the Prince Bishops shopping centre slip road.
But cabbies are angry some of their less obedient colleagues are still waiting on lower Claypath, picking up more passengers as they leave Walkergate’s restaurants and bars.
Adrian White, the council’s head of transport, said the authority was aware a “minority of taxi drivers” were still ignoring agreed ranks and this “inconsiderate behaviour” was disturbing residents and causing traffic and safety concerns.
Mr White said joint enforcement and monitoring campaigns had been undertaken with the police but added: “It is difficult to continue to deploy resources to tackle a problem caused by a small minority of drivers.”
He said the Government consultation meant the council was reconsidering its position on CCTV but it was very aware of the difficulties and was trying to address the problem.
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