London

Black cabs dub Heathrow car park for private hire drivers 'unfair'

The new car park
Image caption Black cab drivers say the new car park is a "virtual rank'

A new car park for private hire vehicles near Heathrow Airport has sparked a row between its owners and black cab drivers.

It is being trialled after complaints from residents about drivers parking in roads and anti-social behaviour.

Black cab drivers claim the car park represents a "virtual rank" which threatens their trade, and say it is a "reward" for bad behaviour.

Heathrow Airport says it is trying to resolve a local issue.

Taxi drivers have been in dispute with ride-booking apps, like Uber, and cabbies have held protests across London about the rise in the number of private hire vehicles.

They have also called on Transport for London to regulate them.

'Competitive advantage'

Sam Houston of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said: "We feel that it is a reward for bad behaviour that the private hire drivers were displaying intimidating behaviour elsewhere around the airport, and so they have effectively brought it on to the airport.

"And we feel they are providing a competitive advantage for those drivers as a reward for that, to circumvent the ranks of the instant hire taxis."

The car park - which is being trialled for a three-month period was introduced after people living near the airport complained of drivers clogging up streets, littering, urinating in bottles and anti-social behaviour.

Uber apologised to people affected and changed its process in response to the complaints.

Image caption Uber driver Mohamed Hamud says the new car park is "convenient'

Chris Joyce from Heathrow Airport said the car park was not about the "wider issues" in the cab industry.

"This is just a facility for private hire vehicles who are already using the airport, this is about getting them off the local streets and at the airport where they should be.

"We have taken the steps needed to stop the problem for our local communities."

Talking about the new car park, Uber driver Mohamed Hamud said: "There are a lot of spaces, it has a toilet and it's convenient."

Drivers have to pay £1 an hour to use the car park and the trial will be reviewed after three months.

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