A TAXI operator in Helensburgh has claimed there is a “huge” unmet demand for the service in the area.

David Haddow made his comments as it was revealed that Argyll and Bute councillors are to consider whether to organise a new survey on the use of taxis and private hire cars across the local authority.

Mr Haddow, a director of TOA Taxis, which recently took over Trident Taxis in Helensburgh, told the Advertiser he doubted whether any survey would be effective.

The possible action is up for debate at a meeting of the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee on Wednesday, January 23.

A report by the authority’s executive director of customer services, Douglas Hendry, states that concern has been expressed over changes in circumstances since the last survey in late 2013 and early 2014.

Mr Haddow, though, feels that a drastic reduction in pickups at taxi ranks in recent years means that a survey would not tell the full story.

He said: “They will look at waiting times and unmet demand, but our concern is that it doesn’t truly reflect the demand for taxis.

“The person who is doing the survey does not come to the office to get the real time figures.

“It was recently published by Glasgow Taxis that since 2006, there has been a 50 per cent drop in pickups from taxi ranks.

“This is because of the rise of Uber and other apps. People are not waiting at taxi ranks in the same way, so we have doubts whether the survey will actually tell the council what they want to know.

“There is huge unmet demand in Helensburgh and Lomond. We know that by the figures that were coming in when we took over Trident Taxis.

“We have one wheelchair taxi, but had another two applications rejected. I also recently got a private hire licence for a wheelchair friendly car.

“Two wheelchair friendly taxis in a town with an ageing population and 11 care homes isn’t enough, but as TOA/Trident we will just take baby steps.”

READ MORE: Taxi driver gets private hire licence for Helensburgh

Mr Hendry’s report states: “At the meeting of this committee on March 21 2018, members were advised that since publication of the respective surveys, there have not been any significant changes to circumstances, population or taxi numbers in any of the taxi zones.

“For that reason, members were invited to continue to have regard to the existing surveys until such a time that there are material changes to circumstances in either of the zones which render the reports out of date, at which point members may wish to determine that new surveys should be carried out.

“Members agreed at their meeting on March 21, 2018 to continue to have regard to the existing taxi surveys at hearings for taxi operator licences, and consider at a later date whether new reports are required at such a time where circumstances have changed to a material degree.

“Since that meeting concerns have been expressed that circumstances have now changed in some of the localities and that the current surveys are now five years old.”

Mr Hendry’s report also states that a survey could investigate whether there is over-provision of private hire cars.

But Mr Haddow said: “They can’t really argue there is over-provision, as Argyll and Bute has four zones, but private hire does not come under these zones.

“It is only taxi plates that come under the zones, so it will be difficult for them to prove or put forward that there is over-provision of private hire cars.”