PEEBLES Community Council is still no further forward in deciding where to move a controversial taxi rank which is causing congestion in the town.

The tailbacks caused by the additional taxi rank on Innerleithen Road, outside the Park Hotel, resulted in frustrated motorists and pedestrians contacting community leaders to complain.

Following consultations with taxi firms, it was decided to scrap the bays opposite Osso Restaurant, and add an additional taxi rank on the middle of High Street outside The County Inn.

This move did not go down well with taxi drivers, who claimed they were not properly consulted and requested that Scottish Borders Council reinstate the bays on Innerleithen Road.

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Community leaders are now seeking the views of locals in the town regarding a number of possible options.

These include: extending the current bay on the Eastgate; scrapping the public parking outside Osso’s on the opposite side of the problem bays; using vacant taxi bays in East Station Car Park, and using radio technology to call taxis forward to the existing Eastgate bay; re-locating the Eastgate bus stop to East Station Car Park to make way for a bigger taxi rank.

All of these options were mooted by the community council but each one created potential problems.

Keen to resolve the matter, chairman Les Turnbull said: “This is developing into quite a controversial issue.

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“We circulated to every member all the responses we had received from the taxi drivers.

“I did ask you all to read them and talk to your family and friends to find out what the residents of the town think.

“I personally have had quite a lot of people talk to me about the problem of the obstruction in the Eastgate outside the Park Hotel caused by those taxis parked there.”

Community councillor Malcolm Bruce expressed his disappointment in the response from taxi drivers.

He said: “It just seemed to me that they were trying to blame somebody else, which wasn’t really the point of the whole thing – it’s an issue, and we need to find a solution.

Peeblesshire News: Photo: Helen BarringtonPhoto: Helen Barrington

“I could see where they were coming from, in the fact that they couldn’t see the rank ahead of them (outside the County) so they could move up in the queue – it’s their livelihood after all.

“But they’ve all got radios. Why on earth can’t we find a technological solution to this, whereby they could stand off in the East Station car park and get called forward as soon as a space becomes available in the existing rank.

“That way, we could do away with the County and the Park Hotel ranks, and just have three or four taxis sitting at the existing rank at one time, called for as necessary. That to me seems to be the solution.”

The meeting heard that taxi firms are keen to extend the current Eastgate rank, but businesses have said they will legally challenge this.

The majority of the community council is in favour of the idea to use the two bays in East Station Car Park.

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Mr Turnbull suggested contacting officers from Scottish Borders Council to seek advice on the best way to accommodate the wishes of the community and taxi firms.

Advising caution against this idea, councillor Shona Haslam said: “Pushing it back to SBC has got the downside in that the council has looked into this and whatever you do it’s going to upset someone.

“I don’t think they (taxi drivers) use radios, I think they use mobile phones, and the danger is they phone the taxi driver in their own company to move forward rather than making it fair between all of the companies.

“If you take away the parking opposite you upset Osso, the physio, and the bike shop.

“If you move the taxi rank further up the high street, you will get a legal challenge from the shops that are there because they’ve already said they would do that. If you move the rank, you kill the business of taxi drivers.

“It’s been looked at on numerous occasions and this is the only option that we’ve managed to come up with, so if you push it back to the council, I suspect the reply will be: ‘We’ve looked at this lots of times and come back to us with a solution’.

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Suggesting relocating the bus station into East Station Car Park, community councillor Elizabeth Rae added: “I think it would be sensible to take the buses into the car park because they come into Peebles and then they’ve got to navigate down the Northgate and back out (onto Edinburgh Road) and either go right or left (towards Edinburgh or Galashiels).

“If they were in the car park, which is a stone’s throw from where they are now, that would ease the whole problem.

“We do get bottle necks because of the taxi rank, but we also get bottlenecks because of the buses that are queued up, so move the buses, move the taxis.

“There’s always going to be a loser. You’re saying the Post Office didn’t like that because they would lose business – I don’t see why they would, but somebody is going to lose.”

Some members of the community council agreed with this, adding that there was the added benefit of public toilets within the car park for bus users.

Questions were raised about the amount of taxi firms coming into the town, but Scottish Borders Council said there is no limit on this.