A CABBIE has ended up with two taxi ranks completely to himself as a result of disability rules.
All cabbies on the holiday island of Arran were until recently in the habit of using the dedicated taxi slots, three of which are near the busy ferry terminal.
But a row has erupted after North Ayrshire Council insisted that drivers had to be able to carry wheelchairs in return for using the spaces.
George Lammie, who was operating as a private hire, decided to shell out £27,000 on a black cab and got himself fully licensed as a taxi driver.
The rest of his colleagues, however, refused to pay the huge fees needed to “upgrade”.
That means they are now banned from the taxi slots and face a £500 fine if they use them.
George, 55, from Kildonan, Arran, is likely to be unique among British taxi drivers in having seven spaces at the two ranks that only he is allowed to use.
He said: “Mine is the only taxi on the island. All of the rest are private hires.
“It all kicked off about six or eight months ago. All the private hires were parking in the taxi rank.
“We got a letter from the council saying if we got caught using them we would get fined up to £500.”
He added: “I said, ‘To hell with it – I’m buying a taxi’. You have to have one that is wheelchair accessible. The one I bought is called a Eurotaxi, it’s a seven seater.
“It’s a bone of contention. There are three spaces at the ferry terminal and about four spaces in the town but if you get caught using them the police will issue a ticket.”
Private hire driver Angus Robert Campbell, 52, said: “OK, it’s a taxi rank, but here on the Isle of Arran we do things a bit differently.
“Personally, if I wanted a taxi licence it would cost me £27,000. North Ayrshire council seem to forget that Arran is an island. It’s just not feasible really.”
He added: “Now, I might not be able to get near the pier.
“It’s chaos. The spaces aren’t even empty, the public are parking in them now.”
A North Ayrshire Council spokesman said: “Only taxis may use council appointed stances.
“Drivers of private hire cars face prosecution if they pick up passengers without prior arrangement.”