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Taxis could soon return to Back Wynd after Union Street pedestrianisation bid fails

Taxis haven't been allowed to operate in Back Wynd since 2020
Taxis haven't been allowed to operate in Back Wynd since 2020

Aberdeen’s Back Wynd could be filled with taxis once more following the reintroduction of traffic to Union Street.

The council’s licensing committee will discuss reinstating the popular city-centre rank on Tuesday.

Cabs haven’t been allowed to operate in Back Wynd since 2020 after the Granite Mile was closed off due to the Covid-19 pandemic to implement the Spaces for People measures.

But the rank looks set to return after Aberdeen City Council voted to ditch plans for pedestrianisation earlier this week.

Councillors voted to permanently allow buses and taxis to remain on the central stretch of Union Street.

If approved the 11-vehicle taxi rank would operate from 5am to midnight seven days a week.

Taxis line up on Back Wynd back in April 2020 before the street was closed. Picture by Scott Baxter/DC Thomson

Majority would welcome return of taxis

Officers were asked to carry out a consultation exercise on the reinstatement of the city centre taxi rank back in February.

Members of the public were invited to have their say on the plans throughout May and June.

The local authority’s roads team and Police Scotland were also asked for their views.

At the end of the exercise, a total of 148 people responded with the majority in favour of reopening the rank.

Police Scotland said it welcomed the move as it would “reduce the risk of disorder or violence associated with large queues”.

But they asked for reassurance around “adequate lighting and provision of taxi marshals at peak times”.

The council’s roads department noted taxi rank spaces would need to be reduced between 6pm and 10am.

This would allow larger servicing vehicles to travel through Back Wynd to get to Union Street.

Signs in place on Back Wynd show that the taxi rank is not in use

Reinstatement is ‘imperative’ for public

Taxi drivers from across the city were hugely supportive of the plan.

Steven Leiper said the reinstatement of the rank is “imperative” for the public.

He added: “This may not be a big deal to some but Back Wynd is central for shoppers to Trinity, Bon Accord and St Nicholas centres and other business.

“When the aim is attracting the public to and around the Belmont Street area is this not one of many reasons to why the Back Wynd should be open again?”

Scott Mitchell said the rank was “instrumental” to both taxi drivers and the public.

He said: “It was the main hub of the city centre for people from all areas to get a taxi.

“It was accessible to the elderly who find it extremely difficult to walk to the other ends of Union Street for a taxi.

“For people who are shopping in the city, especially the elderly have reported to me that they find it very difficult to access these ranks.”

Back Wynd lies empty without the usual line of taxis waiting for customers

People ‘at risk’ without taxi rank

Local residents were also keen to see the taxi rank reopen.

Would you like to see taxis return to Back Wynd? Tell us in our comments section at the foot of this article

Keith Edment said: “It’s currently very difficult for people of age and people with a disability to get all the way down to Castlegate to get a taxi.

“As a door supervisor having to tell them they need to walk all the way down to G Casino to get a taxi is shocking.

“There needs to be closer taxis to Belmont Street and surrounding areas at night for Aberdeen’s nightlife.”

Caroline Beedie said: “You always knew where to get a taxi in Aberdeen, can definitely not say that now.

“People are at risk wandering around the city looking for taxis while under the influence.”

Alyssa Fischer added: “24/7 or later hours into the night would be a more useful service to protect public safety, especially amongst vulnerable young women and university students.”

Ian Cukrowski, owner of Macbeans pictured on Back Wynd. Picture by Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Businessman raised concerns

But the owner of MacBeans Ian Cukrowski said he had some questions about the move.

He raised worries about delivery access to his Little Belmont Street shop, road safety and access to Belmont Street.

Mr Cukrowski also noted there had been a “massive” increase in cyclists going up Back Wynd onto Schoolhill and said reopening the rank would be “an accident waiting to happen”.

He added: “Over the past two years since the taxi rank has been removed the number of Deliveroo pickups on Back Wynd has increased exponentially.

“This will only cause grievances and hostile interactions.”

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