Police warn Southend Council over taxi rank plan on Warrior Square

A council plan to introduce a taxi rank in the centre of Southend is in jeopardy after a complaint was received from Essex Police, calling the plan “unwise”.

Southend Council is considering introducing a permanent taxi rank on Warrior Square and has been taking feedback from various organisations across the borough.

The feedback has led to a major setback after Essex Police wrote to the council to raise a series of objections, including concerns that it will hinder the movement of emergency vehicles.

The space would be dual use, with taxis using it from 7pm until 7am on weekdays and from 1pm until 8am on weekends. The rest of the time it will be a loading bay.

The police say if it goes ahead it will “prohibit the movement of vehicles not engaged in licensed taxi activities – including emergency vehicles”, it would also impact CCTV monitoring, hinder efforts by local nightclubs to prevent people gathering in the area and restrict nightclub evacuation plans.

A letter sent to the council by Southend’s Community Policing Inspector Ian Hughes, notes: “I am aware that this location has been used by taxi’s to pull up intermittently for many years, however I personally feel agreeing to this to be a permanent site is unwise.”

The inspector adds that it would also not be in line with “licensing objectives”.

The council’s deputy leader Councillor Ron Woodley insisted the objection does not mean the plan has to be abandoned.

He said: “We do need to consider every reason for an objection but some points we are already addressing.

“One issue raised by the police is about the impact this could have on CCTV monitoring but we are reviewing our CCTV system in the borough anyway.

“It is up to the licensing committee to take their view on board and make a decision.”

Consideration for the Warrior Square taxi rank comes as the council confirmed it has also rearranged bus stops and taxi ranks outside Southend University Hospital following concerns raised about safety on Prittlewell Chase.

In August the licensing committee approved a plan to move hospital bus shelters 100 metres west of their previous location to make sure passengers are not left crossing the road when there is heavy congestion. The taxi ranks have also been rearranged.

Mr Woodley added: “I am pleased these works have been completed and am confident these changes will benefit bus users, those needing taxis and also drivers who use this stretch of road, which is one of the town’s main thoroughfares.”

The installation of the Warrior Square taxi rank will be considered by a licensing committee on Friday morning.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter