Taxi test centre closure row

Taxi drivers in Angus are up in arms about the county’s vehicle workshop closing next year, meaning they must travel to Dundee to have their vehicles tested.

Police Scotland has taken the decision to close the vehicle workshop in Forfar, which currently carries out taxi and private hire vehicle inspections for the county, in February or March 2015.

Angus Council has put contingency arrangements in place with Dundee City Council, and Angus taxis will be tested there.

Angus operators have formed Angus Taxi Association to lobby the council, arguing that the move will mean increased costs and wasted time.

Following a meeting in Montrose last Wednesday, Association chairman Neil Gibson said: “The move will be a nightmare in terms of costs and travel for us but our main focus is that we do not want to go to Dundee, we want to be based in Angus.

“There are places in Angus where the testing could be carried out. The current team have said they are happy to travel to each burgh to do the testings.

“Dundee already has more than 1,000 vehicles to test and the Angus taxis would be another 300, plus we’ve heard rumours that Perthshire’s taxis could also be tested in Dundee.

“There are excessive waiting times at the Dundee test centre and vehicles can be removed from service for often minor issues, such as a light bulb needing to be replaced, and there are delays of up to four weeks, meaning the taxi drivers are losing business.

“We know we pay more than at other councils in the area for getting our vehicles tested and we’ve been happy to do this as the money has been going back into the Angus community.”

Angus Taxi Association claims it has to pay Angus Council £360 for the testing, £150 more than Dundee’s fee of £210. The association said that it understood that in order to carry out meter testings they will be re-calibrated to Dundee rates and then calibrated back to Angus charges once the testing is done. The association also claims that individual operators have to pay around £20 for their vehicle to be re-calibrated.

An Angus Council spokesperson said: “The police did indicate to us about a year ago that they were reviewing the operation of the garage in Forfar. Following this, we were led to believe that it would remain open but were told in August that it was in fact closing.

“We wrote to the taxi operators in August advising that Police Scotland had decided to close the test centre and it was our intention to relocate the testing facilities to Dundee City Council.

“The council is required to decide which garage/facility is used for the testing of vehicles and Dundee indicated that they were able to undertake the testing of vehicles on the same terms and conditions operated by Police Scotland. Whilst there is no obligation to consult with the taxi trade, we did write to them and have met to discuss our detailed proposals with the trade.

“We are looking to open a new testing facility in Arbroath but this will not be available until 2016. We considered using private garages but they do not currently test vehicles to the required higher standard and private garages do not have the facilities to undertake testing of taxi meters. We also had time constraints and difficulties with tendering timescales.

“It is only the taxi test which is being moved to Dundee and not the licensing function. Dundee requires at least two tests per year, whereas Angus vehicles only require to undergo one test per year. The total paid for taxi tests in Angus is therefore less than the amount paid in Dundee.

“We are in discussion with Dundee in order to ascertain if they can undertake the meter test on the current Angus scales, thus avoiding any need for re-calibration, and about plating vehicles. No final decision has been taken.”