Northampton’s longest-serving taxi driver says conditions for the working drivers along The Drapery are so bad, customers are having to break into a ten pound note to travel the length of the street.
George Bridle, 70, says conditions for those driving taxis and buses along The Drapery are becoming laughable.
On several occasions, he claims to have picked up passengers on The Drapery to find their fare has topped the £6 mark before reaching the Sheep Street traffic lights 200 yards away.
He said: “It’s so congested round there some times I just have to stop the meter - I feel so bad for the customers. When buses run late then they can’t get into any of the bays.
“Some of the buses are unloading passengers when they should be on their way up the road, it’s terrible really.”
Mr Bridle, of St. Matthews Parade, has operated a Hackney Carriage for 38 years, but he says he has never seen town centre traffic in the state it is now.
He, like many others who responded to the borough council’s consultation over the Greyfriars land, wanted to see more bus bays sited back there to ease the burden on the clogged-up around North Gate.
But while it may have bus stops for some people travelling to and from the new development, there will be no local bus terminal at the new Greyfriars.
The National Express coaches will be placed there - alongside restaurants, retail kiosks, flats, student apartments, a gym, a 110-bed hotel.
And of course - an eight cinema multiplex.
But Mr Bridle says it is a missed opportunity not having any buses back at Greyfriars, especially when the Vue Cinema sits less than half a mile from Greyfriars.
He said: “The existing cinemas are almost empty as it is now, and with the advent of films on demand at home, one can watch films for a fraction of the cost of going to the cinema.
“All the ills and stagnation of our once-proud town are laid at the door of the council.”
While those dreams of buses returning to Greyfriars will have to be put to bed, the frustrated cabbies and bus drivers will have to look to the police and the county council to at least ensure drivers stop using The Drapery.
The county council says it might consider number plate recognition cameras to catch offenders , but the police say they don’t have the resources to have officers stationed there “all day, every day.”
A police spokesperson, said: “Officers from our Town Centre Safer Community Team conduct periodic patrols on Drapery and take appropriate action when necessary, including making a note of car details so fixed penalty notices can be issued.
“It is not possible to have officers stationed in Drapery all day, every day, and so we have had discussions with partners to try and find longer term solutions to tackle the problem.
“In the meantime we will continue to conduct patrols whenever possible.”