UPPERMILL’S contentious new taxi rank will be restricted to Black Cabs only.
The decision to put down a two-space rank in a cobbled square between Wade Row and Tame Street has already driven locals up the wall.
But the Independent can confirm the picturesque location, now marked out by vivid yellow paint, is only available to hackney cabs.
However, Saddleworth’s booming night time economy is served mainly by private hire vehicles.
Oldham Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy states: “Hackney carriages may be used to ply for hire in the street, at ranks or stands and may take bookings over the telephone.
“Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance, by the customer, through a private hire operator, and can not be hailed in the street or stand at a rank.”
The new rank immediately drew criticism after Council workers used the wrong colour of paint for the lines.
A few days later they returned to cover the lines with a primrose yellow paint used in conservation areas.
Lesley Brown, a Saddleworth Parish Councillor and chair of Saddleworth Civic Trust, said “I received complaints and investigated – but just couldn’t believe the yellow paint.
“I thought it was a joke because it looks like something that’s been scrawled on the cobbles by a child. The yellow lines are totally wrong for a conservation zone.
“The yellow markings are certainly out of place and one, running the full length of the rank, is nine inches wide.”
An OMBC confirmed: “The minimum width size is 50mm (1.96 inches) and the maximum is 100mm (3.93 inches).
“The aim was to keep to 50mm on this particular site but when painting on cobbles this can be difficult.”
The new rank operates between 8pm to 1am every night and Councillor Brown added: “Who will police the site to make sure only the licensed taxis use it?
“Private hire firms cannot use the rank and if they could they say they have no interest because it’s at the wrong end of the village.”
Lisa Lester-Smith, who owns Solos hair design salon in the square, said: “Motorists keep asking if they can park on the rank during the day.
“It would have helped if part of the rank could have been turned into a disabled parking bay too.”
Royce Franklin, chair of the Saddleworth and Lees sub-committee for traffic and transport, said proposals for the taxi rank had been under discussion for 18 months and details placed on the Parish Council website.
He said: “It is unfortunate it is only now that further objections are being received.
“Surely a little more vigilance by Parish Councillors is required about the implications of the proposal would have been helpful to avoid objections before something becomes a fait accompli.”
Cllr Fida Hussain, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment Services, said: “The hackney carriage stand is being introduced due to lack of facilities in Uppermill centre.
“Unfortunately there isn’t an appropriate highway location close to the museum; the chosen location is the most suitable in central Uppermill which does not pose a highway safety problem.”