DOZENS of motorists have been issued fines for parking in Barnsley town centre’s taxi rank - as taxi drivers struggle to make ends meet due to traffic chaos - the Chronicle can reveal.
A spokesperson for the Barnsley Hackney Carriage Association (BHCA) told the Chronicle he earned just £6.40 on Saturday afternoon as Barnsley hosted Hull City.
Diversions put in place on matchdays - combined with the taxi rank being temporarily moved onto the already busy Eldon Street from Midland Street - are leaving drivers unable to contend with growing queues of customers.
Council bosses, acting as part of a multi-agency group involving South Yorkshire Police, say only two more fixtures this season are planned to have the additional restrictions enforced on Saturday - when the Reds play Huddersfield Town on December 4 and then Middlesbrough on February 26.
Measures put in place owing to the ongoing work at the Jumble Lane railway crossing have seen Schwabish Gmund Way, the Harborough Hill Road slip roads and part of Eldon Street closed from around 90 minutes before kick-off until an hour after the game.
Midland Street, which previously had 18 taxi rank spaces, is currently only available for construction vehicles or those used to access businesses in the immediate vicinity.
The demolition of the former Woody’s chip shop - on Midland Street’s junction with Eldon Street - was ordered to create more space for vehicles accessing the new Glass Works, while parking and loading bays on Eldon Street have been repurposed as wider public walkways.
“There is no other way to word it than utter chaos, traffic is absolutely terrible,” said a BHCA spokesperson.
“Taxis and buses cannot move due to traffic, but as I said to a bus driver that was complaining, at least they are paid by the hour.
“I went to work earlier and did two-and-a-half hours and I earned £6.40 myself and a lot of other drivers are burning through more fuel than we are earning.
“There was a considerable amount of customers waiting for taxis and we just couldn’t get to the ranks to service them - things need to change as soon as possible.
“Myself, along with a lot of other drivers, are no longer willing to work on matchdays as we simply cannot justify the low earnings to the high fuel usage and time consumption - it’s more cost-effective to stay parked up.”
In a lot of cases, drivers - who recently fought for changes to fixed starting rates and night-time hours to combat increasing competition and a lack of new blood in the trade - can’t get to waiting customers, due to other vehicles parking on the rank.
Coun Chris Lamb, cabinet spokesperson for environment and transport, told the Chronicle 66 drivers have been issued penalty charge notices for parking on the rank since April.
“It is important that drivers do keep the taxi rank clear and we ask drivers to please be considerate to the needs of taxi drivers and their customers,” he added.
“Our parking enforcement team regularly patrol this area.
“We appreciate the additional measures are a frustration and we’re grateful to residents, businesses and visitors to Barnsley for their patience.
“We’ve listened to feedback and we’re now looking at extra signage to help make sure the diversions are as clear as possible.
“We will only close these additional roads on specific match days identified by the multi-agency group and there are just two more currently scheduled this season.”