Council Leader Hazel Simmons seems to have a short memory if her comments regarding the return of the town’s Hackney Carriage Association to the airport are to be believed. Maybe there is a hint of not letting the truth get in the way of a bit of publicity and a photoshoot opportunity?
Councillor Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Council, said: “We know how important our airport is to local people, supporting frontline services, improving the lives of people most in need, and supporting the livelihoods of thousands of families. This is very welcome good news for our town’s hard-working taxi drivers.”
What she, the airport operator, and Luton Rising would rather people not know is that in 2016 the town’s Hackney Carriage Association was banned from the airport, as London-based Cab operator Addison Lee, won an exclusive contract to operate taxis at the airport. She was made fully aware by these hard-working taxi drivers when they protested on the Town Hall steps that the ban would affect the livelihoods of many people plunging them into poverty, yet Hazel did nothing, claiming it was a commercial decision by the airport operator.
This from our archive dated summer 2016
We quote from the above article:
- “TAXI DRIVERS will be protesting outside Luton Town Hall at 1.30pm on Wednesday 22nd June  over unprecedented attacks on their trade”
- “Luton Airport used to have a taxi rank at which the town’s taxis could pick up airplane passengers. In 2012 Luton Council removed this rank. The airport planned to put taxi, minicab and limo services out to tender”
“The removal of the rank was designed to make the contract more valuable. In other words, the winning bidder would have the exclusive right to provide taxi services at the airport”
“Giant minicab firm Addison Lee – owned by international financiers The Carlyle Group – swooped in. They offered Luton Airport £2 million for exclusive access to passengers”
- “Local drivers could not compete with the big money that Addison Lee can throw around and the company, despite having no existing presence in the town, won the contract. To add insult to injury, Addison Lee offers to recruit the taxi drivers that it is putting out of business. However, to pay for the £2 million fee that it has promised the airport, it wants a minimum 30% cut of drivers’ earnings. Further, Addison Lee wants drivers to lease new vehicles from it. This would take Addison Lee’s cut from drivers to over 50%”
Now that the town’s Hackney Carriage Association has rightfully retuned to the airport, not only is Hazel celebrating, but also Luton Rising.
Of the new arrangements, Councillor Javeria Hussain, chair of Luton Rising (the Luton Council company that owns the airport) said: “This is a hugely welcome step to support local employment as our company focuses on demonstrating with everything that we do how we are much more than an airport, and continuing to provide maximum economic and social benefit into the local area”
No mention from Javeria about the new revised fees each taxi driver is now expected to give to the airport operator, that will have a direct impact on their standard of living.
As for Addison Lee, they have been missing from the airport throughout 2021 over what we believe is a contracts dispute with the airport operator. This means there has been no taxi service available at the airport for around a year.
The question that needs answering is, would the airport operator have awarded the contract to the town’s taxi drivers if they were talking to Addison Lee? We suspect it would have again gone to the highest bidder and Hazel and Javeria would be nowhere to be seen.