By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
UP to 102 Hackney carriages in Bristol could be risking prosecution for failing to have their vehicles resprayed blue.
The deadline for Bristol City Council‘s blue livery policy passed on May 1.
Drivers were given three years to make sure their vehicle was the right shade of “Bristol blue”, and despite complaints about the cost the majority have fallen in line.
But more than a week after that deadline passed there are still scores of drivers who haven’t told the council they have met the conditions.
As of yesterday, 707 of the 809 registered drivers had confirmed the respray with the authority.
The council says that many of the remaining 102 may have had their vehicles altered but not informed them yet. They could also be off the road while resprays are being carried out.
The council has still warned though, that any driver caught driving a Hackney cab that doesn’t match the policy will be subjected to enforcement action.
That could mean a fine, a court prosecution or the removal of the drivers’ licence.
Council spokesman James Easey said: “We are confident that the vast majority of Hackney carriages currently working are now Bristol blue. We would like to thank the owners for complying with the livery requirement.
“The number of Hackney carriage owners who have brought in their vehicles to show they are the correct colour is now at 707.
“Of the remainder we know that a number have been resprayed but that the owners have yet to notify the licensing office of the change in livery. We also know that, as is normal, there are a number who are not trading at present because they are abroad, or their vehicles are not roadworthy.
“Any Hackney carriages that are not blue and are operating off the ranks or are being hailed in the street will be subject to enforcement action.”
The council approved the “Bristol blue” policy in 2008 to create a uniform city image like the yellow cabs of New York.
Initially councillors gave drivers two years to have their vehicles resprayed but this was extended to three. Many drivers complained that this would still cost them thousands of pounds in the middle of a recession.
The flip side of the policy is that no private hire vehicle is allowed to be blue.
That means that some private hire drivers were affected financially as well, having to respray their blue cars a different colour.
Shafiq Ahmed, Bristol representative of the National Taxi Association, who has not yet had his own vehicle resprayed, said: “My understanding is that most people who have not complied as yet are not doing it because of funds or because the garages offering the most competitive offers are busy.
“There are also some drivers that due to individual circumstances are considering, even at this late stage, appealing against the particular policy, such as people who are part-retired and cannot afford it. The council has been very heavy-handed. They sent notices and then they sent enforcement officers to ranks. We are not against the policy, we are against the way it has been implemented.”