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Taxi drivers in a national park have warned they could be ‘wiped out’ after a council proposed to ban cabbies whose vehicles are more than five years old as part of its strategy to tackle climate change.

Operators say they are facing a bill of tens of thousands of pounds if Hampshire’s New Forest bring in a planned ban on pre-2021 petrol and diesel taxis. 

But concerned cabbies have said replacing older working vehicles is ‘not going to be environmentally friendly’ and they fear the changes could get rid of some 70 per cent of taxis in the area.

They said the policy – which is due to come into force in January 2026 – will have a negative impact on disabled and elderly commuters as electric wheelchair-friendly vehicles are too costly.

One local cabbie, Philip Bristow, said the outlay of having to replace his vehicle would financially cripple him.

Philip Bristow, 50, (pictured)  said it would cost him between £60,000 to £70,000 to replace his London taxi under the proposed scheme

Mr Bristow warned the planned ban on diesel and petrol cars older than five years operating as taxis would mean there will be less cans for disabled people

Mr Bristow warned the planned ban on diesel and petrol cars older than five years operating as taxis would mean there will be less cans for disabled people

Nicole Jackson, 29, said her company would have to invest £400,000 to replace their fleet of taxis

The 50-year-old, who drives a London black cab which has been on the road since 2009, said: ‘I operate a London Taxi.

‘If I were to replace it with a similar vehicle, I’m looking at £60,000 to £70,000.

‘That will be it for me. I have been building this business for just over two years, there’s no way I can justify keeping this with that policy.

‘If they change it then I would have to sell it.’

Mr Bristow, who has lived in Ringwood his whole life said he doubts he’d be able to find anyone to buy his London taxi.

He continued: ‘I don’t see the reasoning behind a lot of it. The main gist of my concerns, of what they are changing, is that we have got to have less than five years to have a taxi, and it can’t run for more than 10 years.’

But Mr Bristow said the policy has had an adverse effect on the council – who were recently encouraging taxi drivers to invest in cars with wheelchair access.

He said: ‘The end result is we won’t have any disabled vehicles in the New Forest.’

In a draft policy which is out for public consultation, the New Forest District Council said ‘all petrol or diesel vehicles must be less than five years from the date of first registration, at the time of initial licensing’ and hybrid vehicles must be less than seven.’

The proposal said: ‘The age policy does not apply to fully electric vehicles.’

It continued: ‘This…assists our clean air strategy – currently in development – and climate change targets in relation to tailpipe emissions.’

Another taxi driver, Nicole Jackson, said her company, Call A Car Ringwood, will have to fork out £400,000 for a new fleet of cars if the policy is rolled out.

The 29-year-old company director said: ‘The whole business is just not happy with it. It’s going to affect our business quite a lot.

‘It could even result in us closing the business, it’s quite costly.’

Ms Jackson said it will ‘end’ smaller businesses, adding: ‘It will end in them closing or just having to become smaller than what they were before to keep them going.

‘I don’t know what they have tried to make out of all this but them making us get rid of vehicles for new ones is not going to be environmentally friendly.

‘It’s ridiculous, the cost of it all is going to be ridiculous.

Ms Jackson said there are ‘two charging points in Ringwood’ and estimated 70 per cent of the New Forest Taxi Industry will be impacted by the proposed changes.

Ms Jackson agreed the policy could ‘wipe out’ cabbies in the area that do not own electrical vehicles.

She continued: ‘And, people [who] are disabled – it’s going to affect them.

‘I mean, they have recently just put in toilets for disabled people in the Ringwood car park so they are saying in one way to prevent them coming into Ringwood, but then there’s that that contradicts itself.’

Another cabbie, Eddie Cuff, said he’s near retirement age so won’t be replacing his minibus if the proposed policy is introduced.

The 65-year-old said: ‘Their environmental reason is a load of nonsense because there are cars passing MOTs.

‘The council itself can’t measure emissions on the vehicle, they can’t test the breaks, take the car for a drive. They haven’t even got a green policy written.’

Mr Cuff said the reason the policy is ‘not good’ for disabled passengers is because wheelchair access vehicles ‘cost more anyway’.

The taxi driver of 25 years said he ‘can understand the council’s reason for it’ but said it’s ‘not right for this area’.

If the proposal is successful, the changes will go ahead in January 2026.

Cllr Philip Dowd said whilst he understands the need to be sustainable, the council need to be ‘pragmatic’ in the way they are achieving that.

The Liberal Democrat representative for Hythe Central said: ‘I’m very happy to say that my concern is that it may have an impact on people with disabilities – particularly wheelchair users.

‘It’s a difficuly one because I know the haven’t put up [taxi] costs for a number of years, I understand that they have to align their rates with tet cost of running the service – that is clear.

Pictured: Philip Bristow in his Ringo Taxi cab which he will have to replace under the planned ban

Pictured: Philip Bristow in his Ringo Taxi cab which he will have to replace under the planned ban

Pictured: Nicole Jackson, who said the ban would 'wipe out' cabbies, in front of her Call a Car Taxi cab

Pictured: Nicole Jackson, who said the ban would ‘wipe out’ cabbies, in front of her Call a Car Taxi cab

Ms Jackson added that there are only 'two charging points in Ringwood' for electric cars

Ms Jackson added that there are only ‘two charging points in Ringwood’ for electric cars

‘I do have concerns about the impact of such big changes, all in one go, will have on people – particularly the disabled and elderly.’

Mr Dowd said he feared the ‘possible unintended consequences on people who are vulnerable.

He continued: ‘As you know, our public transport system is not fantastic across the New Forest.

‘The council have declared a nature and climate emergency. You would expect it to align any [services] with it’s views moving forward.

‘I don’t think there should be any surprise there and they are providing electrical charging points around the district and they have a climate officer as well.

‘I’m not against moving to a more sustainable way but it has to be done in an appropriate way and not in a way that’s going to disproportionately affect people.

‘We have got to be pragmatic about it.’

In response, New Forest District Council said: ‘The draft Taxi Licensing Policy is subject to a three-month consultation period and is open for responses to midnight until Monday 15 April 2024.

‘Responses to the draft policy can be submitted by completing the online consultation form on our website.

‘We welcome feedback about the proposals as part of our consultation exercise. Once the consultation period closes, we will pause and consider the responses received before taking forward a draft policy through our decision-making process.’

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