Supermarket closure scuppers any hopes for more taxis

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The closure of a town centre supermarket has impacted on demand for Wigan’s taxis, an independent report has claimed.

A town hall committee last year ruled the borough was not in need of more hackney carriages following recommendations from council officers.

An independent survey was commissioned to further investigate whether there was “significant unmet demand” overlooked by the town hall, however.

Results from the survey are set to be reported back to the licensing committee and state the closure of Morrisons in The Galleries has had a significant impact on demand.

The report, which will be discussed by councillors next week, suggests if the supermarket had remained open, more vehicles would have been required.

Committee members will be told: “The surveyors believe that there has been a significant reduction in the demand for daytime trade arising from the closure of the supermarket in April, and that this removes any need for the issue of any further hackney carriage plates at this time.”

Specialists CTS carried out the survey, which included almost 300 hours of observation of taxi ranks across the borough, although the hackney carriage drivers will be expected to foot the bill.

The council report reveals the £7,000 total will be recovered from the borough’s 136 drivers, £51 each.

It reads: “It is established practice for the proprietors of all licensed hackney carriage vehicles to meet the costs of a demand survey.

“(It is recommended) the cost of the survey should be recovered through a one–off adjustment to the hackney carriage vehicle licence fee in 2017/18.”

Morrisons’ closure earlier this year was met with dismay and further called in to question the future of The Galleries shopping centre with many units now standing empty.

The report concludes: “Although there is some evidence of unmet demand for hackney carriages, at this point in time in the Wigan area we believe the significant reduction in demand arising from the supermarket closure near the main daytime rank mitigates this.

“It removes any current need for issue of any further plates at this time.”