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By Ian Dipple Wednesday 16 January 2013 Updated: 16/01 14:42
COUNTY highway chiefs could push ahead with plans to use part of a town centre taxi rank to increase on-street parking, despite objections from Redditch Borough Council.
Taxi drivers appeared to have won their fight to prevent four spaces at the top of the rank on Unicorn Hill from being used for short stay parking when the borough council's licensing committee ruled in a tight vote against the idea in December.
But as it is Worcestershire County Council which has responsibility for roads and the regulations on them, officers have been asked to see if legally they can push ahead with the plan without the borough council's approval.
If the move is given the green light the scheme would be introduced on an experimental basis and reviewed after 12 months. The spaces would only be available to motorists during the day and would allow parking for 20 to 30 minutes with no return for four hours, before reverting back to a rank of an evening.
Taxi drivers say there is already a shortage of spaces in the town centre with just an estimated 37 for 230 hackney carriages while the introduction of speed humps on Unicorn Hill had reduced that number further. But businesses argue short-term parking is needed on Unicorn Hill to help boost trade.
Coun Brandon Clayton, who represents the town centre area on the county council, said he was fuming at the decision.
"I can't believe they have done this, it's madness. The county council are saying they are open for business and yet the borough council is saying we are against business. It is sending out a mixed message," he said.
"It's only a temporary thing, if it doesn't work then we haven't lost anything. The best place for the taxi rank is on Unicorn Hill and at night I think there should be more spaces but during the day there is only about six cars maximum on it so it doesn't make sense at all."
But Coun Andy Fry, chairman of the borough council's licensing committee, said the decision was made solely on the evidence presented to them.
"When I looked there were spaces on the taxi rank but there were also spaces in the short stay parking so the demand has not been proven to us," he added.
"We read all the paperwork, some of us went and had a look around, we heard from businesses on Unicorn Hill and the taxi drivers' representative and we made a decision based on that. It's wrong for a councillor to say I didn't like that and I didn't think it was right because it was done right.
"Redditch Borough Council is very much open for business and would encourage all business into Redditch Town Centre."
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