Cabbies furious at campus ban
Taxi drivers are furious after a student union banned them from picking up passengers on campus in the evening.
Last month, University of Leicester Students' Union banned all but one taxi firm – Street Cars – from driving on to the campus in the evening.
It is understood the firm paid about £10,000 for the privilege – a figure neither the union nor company would confirm.
A spokesman for the students' union said the move was designed to improve safety.
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Cabbies said it could put them out of business.
Black cab driver Gurpal Singh Atwal, secretary of the RMT Union in Leicestershire, said: "We have been proud to pick up students and staff in the evenings for 40 years and this decision is unfair.
"Drivers who are not with this chosen firm are losing about £100 a night.
"We have families to feed and people will go out of business.
"The union is giving the work of 10 companies to one.
"It says it is safer to make this decision and cheaper for students, which suggests other firms are dangerous and expensive. That is not true."
Cabs used to drive on and off campus via Mayor's Walk, off University Road, even though the road was exit only.
It has now been blocked and Street Cars is allowed to enter the university via Wyggeston Drive, using a swipe card to open the barrier.
Drivers exit via Mayor's Walk, where they pick up fares.
Dan Flatt, academic affairs officer at the union, said: "This decision was solely taken to prevent a serious accident – and, from the evidence so far, is working very well."
He said the service involved fixed-price journeys, a voucher scheme for students short of cash and the vetting of drivers.
"This is a service tried and tested in other cities, notably Birmingham and Leeds," Mr Flatt said.
"We are obviously concerned that an important group of business people are distressed, but there have been many efforts to prevent cabs driving the wrong way on to the campus, to no avail, so the closure of this road was inevitable."
The union said Street Cars was chosen after a tendering process which saw four or five firms invited to bid for a one-year contract.
Kully Singh, owner of Street Cars, said his firm was chosen because of its low fares and in-car technology.
"We won the contract on the basis of our prices as well as the service we offer," he said.
Mr Atwal said: "Big firms said they were not contacted. If they had told us black cabs, I'm sure we would have clubbed together to offer more money."