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Ashford: Taxi drivers brand new waiting area at Ashford International a joke

By Ellis Stephenson

Angry taxi drivers say a CCTV system meant to improve services outside Ashford train station is a “joke”.

Cabbies can no longer park outside International House as transport bosses feared the area was becoming too congested.

They now have to wait in the Stour Centre car park and watch the screen showing them when the rank outside the station is free.

The area where taxis have to wait in the Stour Centre car park
The area where taxis have to wait in the Stour Centre car park

But one independent cabbie - called Merc Taxi - says the camera has failed a number of times since being introduced in January.

“The whole system is a joke,” he said.

“The monitor keeps failing and when the sun is out we can not even see the monitor, which is worst of all.

The CCTV unit in the Stour Centre has proved unreliable. Picture: @MercTaxiAshford
The CCTV unit in the Stour Centre has proved unreliable. Picture: @MercTaxiAshford

“We therefore run the risk of getting fined because we have to park on the nearby bridge to see if there are passengers waiting.”

Council bosses say moving the taxi drivers has reduced congestion and improved the traffic flow around the station.

They introduced a new zebra crossing between the station and International House to create a safer route to the town centre and college for pedestrians.

Taxi drivers were moved in January
Taxi drivers were moved in January

But Jackie Baxter, who has been a taxi driver for 12 years, claims Ashford Borough Council (ABC) failed to properly consult drivers.

The 55-year-old said: “We were told about the new system coming in but we weren’t really consulted.

“Most of us said we were opposed it but I don’t think we were listened to.

Jackie Baxter is angry about the move
Jackie Baxter is angry about the move

“When the camera breaks down we can’t see the front of the rank so we have to sit on the double yellow lines.”

Council spokesman Leanne Benn says issues with the screen were rectified quickly.

She said: “The introduction of the taxi feeder provided the drivers with a safe environment to feed onto the small station forecourt rank.

“While the principle of a feeder located within a short distance is not ideal, there is simply insufficient room to locate waiting taxis on the domestic side.

“A prior suggestion to move the taxis from the domestic side of the station to the international side where there was more space was strongly opposed.

"We are aware of three faults having been identified since the new taxi feeder started.

“One was a power supply fault affecting the wider Stour/Civic Centre site resulting the system being down for approximately 18 hours, and the other two were minor system faults which required the unit to be reset, both of which were completed in line with the one hour maintenance arrangement in place.

“While any outage is undesirable, we are pleased that the trade have responded well during any outage, and were able to continue to serve the public at the station as per normal.”

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