A PATRIOTIC taxi driver has been given a temporary reprieve from the bureaucratic nightmare that stopped him showing his support for Britain’s injured soldiers.
As reported last month, ex-soldier Bob Turner was ordered to remove a Help for Heroes sticker from his taxi by officials who refused to bend the rules on displaying symbols in taxis.
But after outrage from taxi drivers and customers Harrogate Borough Council has backed down, allowing Mr Turner to display the sticker until a committee meeting makes a decision on his case.
The “delighted” taxi driver has hailed the decision as “a victory for common sense”. He also said he was grateful for all the support he has received but will have to wait until January to hear the final outcome.
“There are far more important things to think about than whether a sticker should be in a taxi, especially when it’s about something like Help for Heroes, something that everyone should be behind,” said Mr Turner.
Fellow taxi driver Richard Fieldman – the chairman of Ripon Taxi Association who also worked for the Army at Ripon’s Claro Barracks for 14 years – also feels they have been given a “reprieve for the moment” but is angry at the delays they have faced.
“Harrogate Borough Council’s stance on this has been unnecessary, unsympathetic and irresponsible,” he said. “I was getting very irate over the length of time they wanted to take making a decision. Leaving it until January was too late.”
When the case first came to light Mr Fieldman was confident that if they applied for official permission to display the sticker it would be granted, he said. But after the delays in the case he said he is not so sure.
“I don’t know what to expect. We’ll have to wait until January and take it from there.”
The council’s taxi handbook states that vehicles cannot display “advertisements, plates, letters, figures, symbols, emblems or other devices” but the Help for Heroes sticker had been on display in Mr Turner’s taxi for two years until mid-September this year, when the taxi inspector contacted him.
Chairman of the council’s Licensing Committee Coun Stuart Martin (Ripon Minster) had reported Mr Turner for potentially breaking the rules on displaying signs in taxis and the driver was left with no choice but to remove the sticker or face losing his licence. Coun Martin said he spotted Mr Turner’s Help for Heroes sticker among three signs displayed in Ripon taxis and asked the council’s enforcement officers to look into the matter.
At the time he was dealing with a request to display a religious symbol in another taxi and wanted to make sure the rules were applied consistently, he said.
“It might seem petty, but the regulations were drawn by the taxi drivers themselves. At the end of the day, if you have a rule it has to be adhered to by everybody.”
Coun Martin has now asked the Taxi Liason Committee to review the regulations about displaying symbols and bring a recommendation to the Licensing Committee in January.
“I have taken the decision to relax the regulations until we can have a proper review of the situation in January,” he added.
Staff at Cascade Garden Centre in Bishop Monkton, who have raised more than £40,000 for Help for Heroes, have supported Mr Turner’s fight. The garden centre has provided him with a supply of Help for Heroes car stickers to give out in return for donations to the charity.
lWhat decision do you think the licensing committee should make in January? Email your views to email@example.com or write to The Editor, Ripon Gazette, 5A Kirkgate, Ripon, HG4 1PA.