A Stratford taxi driver who has been in the trade for more than 25 years has thanked Stratford-on-Avon District Council for its support of cabbies like him whose livelihoods have been threatened by COVID-19.
Kevin Jones, 48, has been a Hackney carriage taxi driver in Stratford since 1994, and runs his own business ‘Kev’s Cabs’ independently rather than for a firm.
But during the pandemic, Kevin has taken only 10 per cent of what he might usually make, with night-time work being virtually non-existent.
He said: “It’s been very hard recently, there’s no getting away from it. I went out to work one Sunday and didn’t have a single job.
“You often have to sit in the taxi rank on Union Street for hours at a time without anyone getting in, and there’s very few people hailing cabs either.
“Sometimes I take people to and from the supermarket, and I’ve recently taken people to Stratford Hospital to get their COVID-19 jab, but it’s not enough with so much of the night-time economy gone.
“It was tough for licenced drivers before the pandemic with the rise of companies like Uber, but the pandemic has made everything worse.”
To help with his finances, Kevin applied to the District Council for two grants – a Discretionary Rate Business Grant and an Additional Restrictions Grant – towards the end of last year.
His application for both grants was quickly approved and processed and Kevin was given just over £2,800 in total.
This is a lot more than is available to taxi drivers in many other local authorities – Stratford District Council is among the highest-paying local authorities when it comes to grants available for cabbies, according to Private Hire and Taxi Monthly Magazine.
Kevin felt lucky that he had a licence from Stratford and was therefore eligible for the grants.
He added: “It’s great to see the District Council support drivers in this way – the pandemic has devastated our businesses through no fault of our own, and we just need some extra support before the demand hopefully comes back.
“So it’s great to hear that Stratford District Council is supporting its drivers properly. We’re an important way for people to get around so I’m happy the council has seen that too.
“I’m hoping parts of the town centre will begin to open up again sooner rather than later so the demand for our services goes up naturally.”
Cllr Anne Parry, Portfolio Holder for Regulatory at Stratford District Council, said: “Taxi drivers provide a vital service across our district, both for residents and visitors alike.
“It’s only right, therefore, that we provide essential support for our drivers while demand has been dramatically cut because of the pandemic.
“We’re very pleased to hear that Kevin’s grant has helped him, and we’re proud to be among the local authorities awarding the most to their drivers.
“We look forward to when the district is in a position to reopen so that drivers can get their businesses moving again.”