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Arrow Taxis in Ashford to close after 41 years over struggles to recruit drivers


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One of Kent's longest-running taxi firms is to close down next month as bosses are finding it "increasingly difficult" to recruit new drivers.

Arrow Taxis, based at Cobbs Wood in Ashford, has been picking up customers in its Mercedes-Benz fleet since 1981.

Arrow Taxis based in Cobbs Wood will close next month
Arrow Taxis based in Cobbs Wood will close next month

But over the past few years, staff say they have been struggling to hire new staff and now the cost of fuel has become 'unsustainable' – leading to the devastating decision to park up the cars for good.

In a statement, owners Jenny Lucking and Karen Boyce said: "After 41 years and much soul searching, Arrow Taxis has regrettably made the decision to close its business on Sunday, July 10.

"This decision has been made because it has become increasingly difficult in the last few years to find drivers so that we can give our customers the good service that we have always tried to provide.

"The pandemic of course only made this situation worse with drivers leaving during the pandemic and not coming back to us as the country has come out of the pandemic and tried to get back to normal.

"New entrants to the driving profession have also not come through the pipeline.

Drivers will make their last journey with the firm on July 10
Drivers will make their last journey with the firm on July 10

"On top of that, as we all know, in the last 12 months costs have been increasing, with the cost of parts needed to keep our fleet running escalating at an alarming rate.

"Some parts have increased by 200%.

"Now the cost of fuel has become totally unsustainable for a business like Arrow Taxis trying to run a fleet of 24 cars.

"We would like to thank all our loyal customers, some of whom have been with us since the beginning in the early 1980s.

"We would also like to thank all our office and workshop staff and the drivers for their loyalty and support, a large number of whom have been with us for 20 to 30 years.

An Arrow Taxi at the former Middle Row taxi rank in July 1983. Picture: 'Images of Ashford' book by Mike Bennett page 90
An Arrow Taxi at the former Middle Row taxi rank in July 1983. Picture: 'Images of Ashford' book by Mike Bennett page 90

"Their help and hard work has enabled us to keep the business running for as long as it has.

"We will miss them massively and with them all the best for the future."

The family-run business held the title as one of the oldest private hire taxi companies in the county.

As well as local journeys, it offers airport transfers and trips for special occasions.

Firms in other parts of Kent have experienced similar problems with driver numbers and abuse has been aimed at staff working for companies in Sittingbourne and Thanet.

After 41 years in business, Arrow Taxis in Ashford has announced it will be closing next month after struggling to recover from the pandemic (57383907)
After 41 years in business, Arrow Taxis in Ashford has announced it will be closing next month after struggling to recover from the pandemic (57383907)

One Ashford resident who regularly relies on taxis has experienced first hand just how much the industry has suffered post pandemic after struggling to get a taxi in the town.

Teresa said: "Both my son and husband have to use taxis on a regular basis as neither of them drive and it appears that over the past two weeks it has become evident that taxi companies are struggling to provide drivers.

"Last Wednesday my husband was told he would have to wait three hours before a taxi would be available to take him home from an appointment.

"I fear that this problem is only going to get worse and must be affecting many other regular taxi users many of whom are elderly or live in remote areas which are poorly served by public transport especially since local bus services have also been also systematically reduced over the past few years to save money."

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