Jan 25 2013 By Jackie Grant
A Dumfries taxi driver claims he’d be better off not working due to the cost of repairs to his vehicle caused by the region’s pothole-stricken roads.
Self-employed Stuart Goldie said many cabbies are now entitled to working tax benefits because they’re only earning around £10,000 a year despite working 60-hour weeks.
And he said the council is making life difficult for hard-working drivers because roads are not being properly maintained.
He’s had to fork out a fortune for shock absorbers that have been wrecked going over speed bumps, and replacing tyres that have been ripped apart by potholes.
“Every six months taxis and private hire vehicles are required to take a mandatory road worthiness test, quite rightly, for public safety”, he said.
“But the cost of suspension and related repairs due to the condition of the majority of council maintained roads has nearly tripled in the last two years leading to the need for many single vehicle operators to claim tax credits due to the drop in profits.
“The majority of these operators have to work around 60 hours a week just to make under £10,000 a year and are now entitled to working tax benefits. It’s ridiculous that somebody working 60 hours a week is entitled to benefits.
“The council has a legal obligation to maintain roads to a reasonable state.
“ If a road user breaches the road traffic act they are prosecuted and fined, yet the council is breaching this same act by not maintaining the roads under their control, and it’s the road users that are penalised.
“How can anyone maintain a vehicle to a roadworthy condition if the roads are not roadworthy?”
Mr Goldie from Locharbriggs added: “The cost to the taxpayer is mounting by not repairing roads. It’s false economy and about time the council or Scottish Government allocated appropriate funds to road repairs instead of penalising people who do the right thing and work instead of giving up employment to be better off.”
A council spokeswoman told the Standard: “Our taxi testing contractors have been assessed by independent engineers and are adhering properly to our specifications. This is essential for the safety of all passengers and for the drivers themselves.
“The capital budget allocations directly associated with roads surfacing/strengthening works as agreed by the planning, housing and environment services committee this week for 2013-14 is a total of £5.2million. That includes £3.1million for roads structural maintenance.
“However, that figure does not include the revenue budget for roads surfacing as that will be established after the budget is set.”