Taxis are to be allowed to carry paid advertisements for the first time in Milton Keynes to help black cab drivers deal with a devastating downturn in business.
The move, agreed at a council meeting on Wednesday, applies to vehicles that have the sign ‘taxi’ and can be hailed from the street and not private hire vehicles, which have their own rules.
“Trade is dreadful,” said Peter Kirkham, of the Milton Keynes Taxi Association, at MK Council’s Regulatory Committee. “I have never known a period like it and I can’t see it getting any better.
“There’s a lot of lads now that are really, really struggling. Mortgages, families at home and a lot of people travel into Milton Keynes to be cabbies. They’ve got an hour’s run before they get here and start work.
“That used to be ok but it isn’t now so we’ve asked the council to allow all over advertising on all of the taxi fleet.”
Mr Kirkham, who is also a member of the National Private Hire and Taxi Association, added that advertising on taxis is pretty unique, and not every council allows it. It is a common sight in London, he said.
Councillors welcomed the idea, with Pauline Wallis saying she thought it was “brilliant”.
Cllr Emily Darlington supported the move as long as every advertisement is checked by the council first.
Cllr Catriona Morris, who chairs the committee, said that every advert would be seen by an officer. “I am confident that they will ask questions and not just pass them,” she said.
Jason Agar, of the council’s taxi licensing unit, said approved adverts would be checked every 12 months to ensure that the black cab fleet was not becoming ‘scruffy with old advertising.’
Councillors voted unanimously in support of the move, and a price of £100 for an advertising application and compliance fee.
The rules include no foreign languages unless there is also a translation, no adverts for lap-dancing, gentlemen’s clubs, escort agencies,
massage parlours or similar.
There is also a ban on adverts for gambling, alcohol, matters of public controversy and sensitivity, or of ads that are religious or political in nature.