Campaigners to hold protest and march today against plans to move Leeds Station taxi rank
Campaigners are set to protest and march in Leeds today against plans to move the taxi rank at the train station.
Those with disabilities and the elderly using Leeds station will face ‘intolerable obstacles’ if they wish to hail a cab as the current taxi rank is set to be moved further from the platforms, Unite the union warned.
The proposed rank - scheduled for 2023 - is down steep steps or via a lift, the union said.
Leeds Council plans to pedestrianise Leeds Station and its surrounding area as part of a £39.5 million investment scheme in the area.
Cars and buses will no longer be able to use New Station Street, meaning the taxi rank and bus stops will be moved if the plans go ahead.
The taxi services will then be relocated to Bishopgate Street.
Campaigners are set to protest at 11.30am at Leeds Civic Hall to lobby councillors to keep the taxi rank where it is currently positioned.
There will also be speeches by campaigners at 2pm at Millennium Square.
Unite said that Leeds City Council, Network Rail and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority all had ‘their fingerprints’ on the plan.
Unite regional officer Darren Rushworth said: “Tuesday’s protest by disability campaigners is aimed at asking the ‘powers that be’ to jettison this proposal which will put intolerable obstacles in the way of disabled people and the elderly who will have nearly four times the length to go to seek a taxi.
“This is supposedly happening to make passenger movements easier and to cope with modelled increases in passenger numbers, but the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has already shown that the throughput is down by 12 per cent for Leeds station in 2020 and that it did not anticipate the same levels of passenger movements in future with people’s changing habits to work and travel.
“Unite and a wide range of disability organisations want the status quo to continue and for people actually running this development to listen rather than dismissing our legitimate arguments, most of which have been outlined to the local council many times.”
Unite branch secretary for passenger transport/cab section for Yorkshire Paul Landau said: “While taxi drivers will lose custom as people are driven by what is called 'line-of-sight' and if they cannot see a cab rank they will either walk or use an App to gain carriage, but that is not our principle objection.
“We are primarily concerned about an expensive and misguided proposal that the travelling public don’t want - a snapshot survey we conducted at the station showed that 75 per cent of people wanted the rank to remain as it is – and the very detrimental impact it will have on our fellow citizens who have a disability or who are elderly. We should be making their lives easier, not more difficult.”
A number of members of the Unite union are set to protest on Tuesday.
Members of the LCC AUAG & Disability Hub previously protested in Millennium Square on Monday, July 19 to voice concerns about the accessibility of the plans.