I went along to a positive meeting of the DSTAG steering group this evening, called to discuss the Council's proposals for taxi ranks in Duke Street.
We recently published a traffic order for a number of new ranks across the town - since the inception of Pedestrian Heart we have been working with the taxi trade to increase the number of spaces around the town centre. The two ranks proposed for Duke Street seem to have attracted almost universal disapproval, however.
Traders fear that taxi ranks along Duke Street could attract late night trouble from drunken revellers. Local residents apparently share their concern. Two members of the taxi trade were also present, who told me that the hackney carriage drivers (who work the ranks) in fact also didn't want the proposed ranks on Duke Street, and wanted instead a longer rank on nearby Barnard Street.
Things are rarely this straightforward to sort out (though this could be the exception), but tonight's discussion will provide a useful basis for discussion over the coming weeks.
We also talked about the needs of traders on the "fringe" of the town centre. Duke Street, Grange Road and Coniscliffe Road have a number of independent traders who add enormous value to the shopping experience in Darlington. I'll certainly be happy to go back and talk to them again about matters of concern.