Seeing red trying to go green

An Eastbourne private hire operator is bemused that his efforts to go green have been blocked by red tape which has stopped his livelihood.

Dean O’Hara, from Sovereign Harbour, decided to replace his ageing petrol cab with an environmentally-friendly electric vehicle. But that was just the start of his problems which have revealed how the town may talk a lot about green issues but seems to have done far less about putting them into practice.

A local driver for over ten years, Dean is a proud member of the Call A Cab taxi firm and has become a well-known face around Eastbourne at the wheel of his estate car. When his trusty vehicle finally gave up the ghost he decided to invest £25,000 in a fully-electric MG5 EV, a new-generation five-seater which puts sustainability to the fore.

However, he quickly discovered that Eastbourne is not ready for such a green vehicle despite the Borough Council continually promoting what it claims is a green agenda.

“I was gobsmacked”, said a bemused Dean. “All this talk of switching away from petrol and diesel but the town’s just not ready. It is all talk and not nearly enough action.”

Mr O’Hara was told that his new vehicle could not be licensed because it might set a trend. “What if 20 Eastbourne taxi drivers go out and buy electric cars, where would they charge them?”, he was told when he submitted the licence application for his new pride and joy. Given the cost of electric cars at the moment, Dean finds it hard to believe that many drivers would make a sudden switch and take up all the town’s charging points, although he was keen to show that there is an alternative to fossil fuels.

“We have a charging point at home”, explains Dean. “An eight-hour overnight charge gives me a range of up to 260 miles and that’s more than enough for the work I do; I wont’ be clogging up the public charging points.”

Dean’s case has been taken up by his local councillors in Sovereign Ward who are appalled at the way he’s been treated in his efforts to put a sustainable taxi on the road in Eastbourne. Sovereign Conservative Councillors said: “This is so unfair on a hard-working driver. Dean is now losing money every day because of the total incompetence of our Liberal Democrat-run council. They talk a lot about green issues but, as this woeful case clearly shows, they’ve done precious little to put those mealy words into practice.”

Conservative Deputy Group Leader, Cllr Penny di Cara, also represents Dean as a Sovereign ward councillor. She feels it’s lamentable that this self-employed private hire operator has had his livelihood affected in this way. “Like many of us, Dean has a family to support and a mortgage to pay. This is grossly unfair on him when he’s gone out of his way to heed the words of the mandarins running our borough and embrace a more sustainable future for taxi cabs in our town.”

There is going to have to be a specially-convened meeting of the Licensing Committee to determine the case, meanwhile Dean and his shiny new car are stuck at home, earning no money.