Taxi row ends in a ban on new office

A private hire vehicle company has been ordered to stop using a town centre building it moved into without planning permission.

Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 11:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 18th May 2016, 1:01 pm
Wigan Council is taking enforcement action against Crusader Cabs which has moved into a building opposite Wallgate station

Crusader Cabs was served with an enforcement notice and a stop notice from Wigan Council after operating from the premises on Wallgate.

The firm recently moved into the former financial services shop but did not get the planning approval from the town hall which would be required to trade from there.

The council acted as the firm’s move without involving the local authority is a breach of planning regulations.

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Crusader Cabs which has moved into a building opposite Wallgate station

Karl Battersby, director of economy and environment, said: “The council is committed to ensuring that all hackney carriages, private hire vehicles, operators and drivers are properly licensed and have been through the correct regulation procedures.

“The overwhelming majority of our private hire vehicles provide excellent service and it is unfair to the rest of the trade when an operator does not follow the regime.

“We will not hesitate to take action against businesses that breach regulations.”

Planning permission is needed for Crusader Cabs to use the Wallgate building as using it as a booking office for private hire vehicles is classed as a change of use.

Crusader Cabs which has moved into a building opposite Wallgate station

This means that simply moving into the premises without contacting the town hall is an authorised alteration of the building’s function.

If Crusader wish to continue operating from the base on Wallgate they will now need to go through the full process of applying for planning permission, which will either be decided by officers or the committee made up of councillors.

The company’s underhand move had sparked anger among the borough’s black cab taxi drivers working from the rank outside Wallgate train station, which is directly across the road from the building Crusader Cabs had moved into.

Hackney cab driver Ronnie Melling said: “Drivers have been ringing me upset and concerned about the fact this office directly opposite the rank did not have planning permission.

“About seven or eight years ago I objected to an office being opened there and the application was rejected by the council.”

The area around the office is very competitive with taxis picking up business from the Wallgate rank and also the one outside the town’s North Western station.