THE “torturous” process of trying to bring licensed rickshaws to the streets of Cheltenham is over – for now.
Borough council bosses have said they will not be adopting a policy which would allow them to grant permission for the pedi-cabs to operate in the town.
However, they have vowed to look at the controversial issue again in the near future when a new Law Commission report and draft bill is published on the licensing of taxis at the tail end of 2013.
The unanimous decision, taken this evening at the Municipal Offices by the authority’s cabinet, comes more than a year after business owners first approached the council with plans to operate the vehicles in and around the Promenade.
Cabinet had decided in December 2012 to defer making a cast iron decision on licensing rickshaws on the grounds that the vehicles do not fit neatly into existing Hackney carriage legislation.
But dissatisfied councillors called in the decision for scrutiny, stating the decision to put off saying yes or no simply wasn’t good enough and “lacked clarity”.
As such, cabinet was asked to reconsider and now they have, saying no and opting to wait for new, “more fitting” legislation to come into law.
James Meyer, one of the people behind Rickshaw Revolution, the company which wanted to bring the pedi-cabs to the town, told the Echo the latest decision will force him to sell the three rickshaws he had bought.
“Clearly, I am extremely disappointed,” he said.
“I will be selling the rickshaws. No business can afford to take on stock and then wait 13 months only to be told that in another year I might be able to run my business.
“It doesn’t work that way.”
Meanwhile, Peter Jeffries (LD, Springbank), cabinet member for housing and safety, who has been dealing with the licensing issue, rejected accusations that the council had taken too long to make a decision either way.
He said: “It’s about legislation and democracy, not just taking a decision because we want to do something.
“I am confident that we have been open, honest and professional in our attempt to support this licensing.
“We could have easily just said no, but we didn’t. We took it on.”
Councillor Duncan Smith (C, Charlton Park), the chairman of the scrutiny committee which dealt with the call in said any qualms had been “more to do with the decision making process rather than the committee taking a view on whether rickshaws should be licensed”.
He added: “Cabinet has made a clear decision which is what we wanted them to do.”
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