Sunday Life

Taxi ad war ends in truce
Ulster cabbies win key compromise

By Joe Oliver
21 November 2004

ANGRY taxi drivers have agreed to a temporary truce, in their battle with the government over a new safety advertising campaign... but not before steering the DoE and Minister, Angela Smith, into two key concessions.

The department agreed immediately to withdraw ALL billboard posters using the word 'rapist' on the rooftop of a rank of cabs.

And, it also agreed to look again at the use of new identification plates.

The deal was reached, after hundreds of private hire cabbies blockaded streets in Belfast for up to an hour, last week.

Frank Connor, who represents an umbrella proprietors group, with around 2,000 drivers, told Sunday Life, last night: "Further action has been suspended, until we see the outcome of the government's overall review of the industry.

"We will be contributing to that review, and we will then call a meeting of all our drivers to discuss a response."

The cabbies looked at bringing the DoE to court, and at lodging a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority about the ads, which they believe demonised drivers.

Mr Connor added: "The DoE agreed to withdraw the most inflammatory posters, and also assured us they would look at the format of the new plates.

"We feel they should be on the roof screen of cabs, so that they can be removed when a driver is at home or off duty.

"As it stands, the five identity plates are nailed on the vehicle permanently, and are easily identifiable to thieves or muggers."

The drivers have also asked the DoE to consider allowing private hire taxies to use bus lanes.

"After all, black taxies can use bus lanes, so why discriminate against us?" said Mr Connor.

A DoE spokeswoman said: "Future arrangements with regard to the new plating system are being examined, as one of a wide range of issues under consideration in the ongoing review of taxi regulation."

The controversial advertising campaign, that accompanied the identity scheme, cost taxpayers £100,000.

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