A bid to introduce more wheelchair-accessible taxis in Perth and Kinross has been branded farcical.
Perth and Kinross Council put five taxi new plates up for grabs and any operator who wanted one could enter a ballot.
The intention was to ensure any customer who relies on a wheelchair could get a cab when they needed one.
It followed a local authority survey which identified unmet demand among wheelchair users in the area.
But two Perth taxi companies claim a driver drought means there are not enough people to operate the new cabs.
And taxi ranks are already full when business is quiet.
Firms have also branded the ballot unfair, saying the way it was organised means some taxi operators were able to submit between 50 and 100 bids for a plate.
Anddy Lothian of Ace Taxis said: “The whole thing is a circus.
“They can’t justify having another five cars on the road and the majority of drivers are against it.”
‘Not enough space at the ranks for any more’
Taxi companies across Tayside and Fife have been struggling with a dearth of drivers for several months.
Dozens left to become delivery drivers when business plummeted during the Covid lockdown.
And many have not returned.
It’s an absolute farce.”
Derek Sweeney, A&B Taxis.
Anddy said: “There has been a limit of 80 taxi plates in Perth for ages for a reason – there’s not enough space at the ranks for any more.”
‘No lack of wheelchair-accessible taxis’
And Derek Sweeney of A&B Taxis in Perth agrees.
“It’s an absolute farce. I’ve voiced my concerns to the council about the way they’ve done this,” he said.
Derek says he already has a dozen wheelchair-accessible cabs.
“There’s not a lack of cabs, there’s a lack of drivers,” he added.
“This won’t result in any extra taxis for people with wheelchairs.”
Despite their reservations, both Anddy and Derek submitted bids for one of the new plates.
But they claim some operators bid several times under the names of various employees to boost their chances.
A Perth & Kinross Council spokesperson said: “The draw was designed to be as fair as possible and guidance was issued ahead of the draw to those who wanted to apply.
“As long as people met those requirements their applications would be included and eligible for a licence if their name was drawn.
“The new licences were issued after a need for additional wheelchair accessible taxis was identified in a survey of unmet demand.”