Stafford taxi rank to close and become a cinema
The main night-time taxi rank in Stafford town centre will shut to make way for a new cinema as part of a multi-million-pound development - sparking anger among cab drivers.
The five-space rank in Bridge Street would be moved to the nearby South Walls when the five-screen cinema is constructed on the old Chicago Rock cafe site. Part of Bridge Street would also be closed to traffic from the junction with South Walls from 11pm in the evening to cut the risks to pedestrians.
Concerns have been raised that the changes could put people off visiting the town on nights out and damage trade.
Would these changes put you off going out in Stafford?
Colin Jones, chairman of Stafford Taxi Association, said: "The rank in Bridge Street is the only rank at night in Stafford and the closure will seriously damage the night time economy and leave no taxi service for the public."
The council has proposed setting up a rank in South Walls from 11pm to 4am - but Mr Jones says this means there will be 'no visible service from 4am to 11pm in the Bridge Street part of the town'.
He added: "When it was pointed out that more than 30 taxis will be needed to service the public on busy nights, the response was that we have to circulate - so that means that they want over 30 taxis to drive around the one-way system.
"If there are no spaces available on the rank they expect the taxis to keep on circulating until a space is available. Can you imagine the cost to the drivers to do this, and all the pollution it will create in the town centre?"
A Stafford Borough Council spokesman said consideration would be given to the taxi drivers concerns: "The developer will be required to replace the existing taxi ranks currently on the Bridge Street service road.
"Following comments from the taxi drivers' association consideration is being given to see if the location of the rank in Bridge Street can be maintained or whether there is a better position to serve the needs of taxi users."
The cinema is part of the new Riverside retail and leisure complex will include names such as River Island, H&M, Marks & Spencer and Primark, as well as a multi-storey car park.
Two cinema chains have expressed an interest in moving into the development, although developers LXB Properties have so far refused to reveal their identities.
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It will stand alongside a new unit with shops and restaurants, while an existing footbridge over the River Sow will be revamped.
A report with the plans states: "Following discussions with officers of both Stafford Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council it is clear that there is a collective desire to re-provide taxi rank facilities in locations that may better suit the slightly different needs of the daytime retail and evening entertainment taxi trade.
"The councils are considering options to close Bridge Street to vehicular traffic in a southbound direction from the junction with Mill Bank/South Walls at around 11pm in the evening in order to provide a more pedestrian friendly environment close to pubs, clubs and late night takeaways.
In a northbound direction Bridge Street is already restricted to buses and cycles only.
"Following a meeting with Stafford Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council and subsequent discussions with Staffordshire Police, it is proposed to re-provide taxi rank facilities for use after 11pm until the early hours of the morning on South Walls immediately to the east of the junction with Bridge Street.
"It was also agreed that further taxi rank facilities could be provided on Clarke Street, which is to the east of the town centre but directly to the north of the permitted Riverside scheme and the point where the shopping mall would meet South Walls."
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