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Council to keep taxi zone system after Aberdeen Airport security concerns

Aberdeen International Airport has a specific fleet of taxis.
Aberdeen International Airport has a specific fleet of taxis.

Aberdeen will continue to have multiple zones for taxis after airport chiefs expressed concerns over security.

Proposals had been launched to abolish the current zoning system and creating one taxi licence covering the entire local authority area.

A public consultation was carried out earlier this year, with 101 responses out of 149 in favour of the suggestion.

However, senior staff at Aberdeen International Airport wrote to the administration’s licensing committee to object to the plans, claiming it would “compromise high levels of site-specific safety and security measures”.

Security fears over proposals

The airport’s security system requires all drivers accessing the inner forecourt to be registered, and removing the zone system would have meant every licensed taxi driver in the city would have had to go through airport-specific training.

Concerns were also raised that the airport would be neglected by drivers at busy times in favour of more lucrative areas, such as the city centre.

In a letter, the airport’s operations director Mark Beveridge said: “In addition to controlling access, each airport driver signs up to airport-specific terms and conditions – in addition to those that are part of obtaining a local taxi license.

“This includes the airport’s security procedures such as reporting unattended luggage and vehicles and awareness of suspicious passengers.

“If all other taxis were to access the airport, it would be insisted they would need to also sign up to these terms and conditions along with the existing fleet.”

John Reynolds, the convener of the licensing committee, put forward a motion to retain the existing zones, which was approved unanimously by the committee.

“I am old enough to remember the zones coming in,” he said.

“The reason we introduced the zones was although a contracted driver would pick up a fare from the airport and take the passenger to the city centre, because they had a yellow plate they could immediately pick up a flag-down.

“The vehicle didn’t have to go straight back to the airport. The driver could work the city centre.

“With the introduction of the new plates the drivers had to go back to the airport.”

Airport in ‘unique’ situation

Fellow committee member Gordon Townson highlighted Aberdeen International’s “unique” position due to its close links with heliports.

“Aberdeen airport I believe has more flight movements than Manchester and it is a very distinct Scottish airport, which is why it needs what is in place there at the moment,” he said.

“The complexion of Aberdeen airport with the heliports means there is constant demand unlike any other major city in Scotland, where you can gauge times coming in.

“I think Aberdeen is unique in the way it is structured.”

Rank changes approved

Meanwhile, the licensing committee also approved changes to a number of taxi ranks in the city.

The ranks on Back Wynd and Hadden Street have been suspended as a result of the Spaces for People interventions in the city centre.

New ones are to be created on Rosemount Viaduct, Exchange Street, Exchequer Row and Shiprow, Union Row and Justice Mill Lane.

The proposals were agreed unanimously by the committee.

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