People will steal taxis and fight if the Leeds station taxi rank is moved to a smaller location, protesters say

Activists are once again taking to the streets against the movement of a taxi stand which they say discriminates and puts vulnerable groups at risk.

Unite the Union said relocating the taxi rank would leave people with disabilities struggling to access the taxi rank and women would feel unsafe after dark.

The taxi rank outside Leeds station is currently just outside the station, but as part of the council’s plans to redevelop the station area, it would be relocated to Bishopgate across from the Scarborough hotel.

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Protesters will take to the streets on Wednesday 10 November in Leeds City Square from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The station’s development plan includes “wider and safer” steps and two passenger elevators – but disability activists say the new row will still be elusive for people with disabilities.

Access and Use-Ability Group (AUAG) said elevators can be difficult to access for some people with guide dogs and people with autism – they are campaigning for the row to be somewhere with step-free access.

Taxi drivers are also protesting – as the new row will only have room for six taxis while the current one will have 33.

Campaigners also said the new position “would lead all users and especially vulnerable people to queue in front of a notorious pub and in the city’s ‘Dark Arches’ area.

“An area which, at the best of times, is an intimidating place for single women and people with disabilities.”

Unite also announced plans to send an open letter to Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps protesting the move to the taxi stand.

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “The proposals aim to make New Station Street pedestrian-friendly, traffic-free and safer for all who use the station area. As part of this, Leeds City Council (LCC), the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Network Rail developed proposals and LCC obtained a building permit to relocate the taxi rank to Bishopgate Street.

“The proposed move means people will no longer have to cross a busy road to access the taxi rank, and with the number of people using Leeds station expected to increase dramatically over the next few years, it will also be easier for people to get to and from the train station using what is already a busy street.

“Other upgrades will include a larger, more accessible and secure CCTV taxi shelter that will give passengers the ability to line up to City Square.

“The UK Transport Police will continue to monitor the taxi shelter which will also continue to be covered by Taxi Watch and Network Rail assistance to assist passengers and ensure their safety.

“Throughout this, we worked with representatives from disability access groups and other community members across town to discuss the proposals and help shape the design to meet their needs.

“We will continue to consider any proposals or suggestions to further improve the design as we finalize our program. “

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Taxi drivers and disability activists had already protested the move in September, where the Unite Leeds branch chairman said Leeds Live: “What happens when a train from London comes in and you have 100 people there, or on a Leeds United game day outside the Scarborough Hotel, or on a Friday or Saturday night.

“When these taxis are called from Sovereign Street, they will have to negotiate in traffic, through the general public. How long is it going to take?

“People will try to steal taxis, it will cause fights.

“Are people going to feel safe? Will young girls in the evening feel safe?

“It won’t work for people with disabilities, it won’t work for people with young children, it won’t work for young girls in the evening, it won’t work for taxi drivers.”

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