Our town centre taxi drivers are under attack - here's what they have to endure
Taxi drivers are running a shocking gauntlet of abuse from youths in Wigan town centre and may boycott the area if the problems continue.
Black cabs have been kicked, bricks have been thrown at windows and yobs have grabbed makeshift barriers to blockade routes while others lined up to hurl insults, furious industry representatives have said.
Wigan Council says a stream of reports of serious anti-social behaviour have been coming in and information has been reported to central watch and Greater Manchester Police (GMP), leading to at least one person being barred from the area to prevent them causing trouble.
However, some hackney carriage operators say that is not enough and say the public might even have to do without black cabs in the middle of town if the barrage of incidents is not stopped.
The worst-hit areas appear to be on Dorning Streets and the roads around Wigan Parish Church leading back to the taxi rank on Wallgate, with most of the problems occurring between 6pm and 9.30pm.
Black cab driver Eddie Earley said: “These young thugs are hanging around and drivers coming back into the town through the centre are getting attacked.
“Cars are being damaged with windows smashed and vehicles were being stopped with barriers near the bus station being put in the middle of the road.
“That whole area should be on CCTV and yet this has been going for the last two weeks. It doesn’t look like enough is being done.
“This is doing a lot of damage to the town centre, it’s making it a not very nice place.
“It’s getting to the point where we will have to make it a no-go area for the taxis and then the public will suffer. We will only use the main roads and people will have to pay more to get into town.
“We will boycott the whole town centre if we have to. Safety of the drivers has to be guaranteed. We can’t have people picking things up and lobbing them at taxi drivers.”
Mr Earley says he has been told up to half a dozen youths have been causing the trouble, with half of them appearing to be teenagers.
He said drivers targeted by yobs will face bills of around £200 for each smashed window and £300 or £400 if a door gets damaged.
Wigan Council condemned the anti-social behaviour but strongly denied it was not doing anything to combat the problems.
It said action had already been taken and the town hall would continue using the surveillance set-up to pass evidence to the police.
Dave Lyon, assistant director for environment at Wigan Council, whose department also covers CCTV said: “Anti-social behaviour such as this is never acceptable and we will always work closely with colleagues in the police to mitigate and diffuse such unacceptable behaviour where possible.
“Our central watch team is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will always inform the police if and when they witness these kinds of reports.
“I am aware that a number of incidents have been witnessed and shared with our GMP colleagues, which has led to at least one individual having conditions imposed to restrict their movement in this area.
“There is a heavy CCTV presence in the immediate town centre and we will continue to share any footage with GMP to support their ongoing enquiries.”