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Medway taxi drivers want to remain in the past
Plus you can get drunk at 10am this Sunday, and maybe we're getting a Costco.
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Medway taxi drivers want to remain in the past
It seems vaguely ridiculous that we’re having this discussion in 2023, but Medway taxi drivers are currently engaged in a debate about whether they should have to accept card payments in their cabs.
Years after so most of us pretty much abandoned cash, nearly half of all taxis in Medway (around 40%) still have no facility to accept card payments.
Medway Council is seeking to fix that, with a recent consultation taking place on the issue, which seems likely to compel drivers to accept card payments as part of their licence terms.
The stand-out figure here is that out of the 123 drivers that replied to the consultation, 59% of them objected to the change.
Drivers gave a number of reasons for why they would be opposed to change. Many were concerned about card failures at the journey destination, others worried about a lack of signal, and some objected to having to pay card processing fees. The latter feels like a particularly odd issue as those figures are surely dwarfed by the number of potential additional customers they would be able to carry when not limiting to cash only.
No one other than the taxi drivers themselves seems to think this is a good idea. Medway councillors unanimously responded in favour of the change. Customers are increasingly abandoning cash with only 10% of transactions made that way in 2022. Even the Medway Licensed Taxi Drivers Association are broadly in favour of the requirement.
Medway Council’s Licensing and Safety Committee are set to discuss the consultation results this week, and if agreed, the report would move to full council, who would make the final decision. Given councillors are unanimously in favour, that feels more like a rubber-stamping exercise than anything else.
How happy Medway’s taxi drivers will be about being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century is another matter.
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You can get drunk at 10am this Sunday, but only this Sunday
Great news for fans of football-related drinking, Medway Council is letting pubs serve alcohol from 10am on Sunday to coincide with the World Cup final, even if their usual licence prohibits it.
As ever, this sort of thing raises questions about how licensing works on this level. If it’s fine for people to drink between 10am and 2pm on a Sunday when the football is on, why isn’t it on any other Sunday? Perhaps it’s because pubs full of football fans rarely result in any alcohol-related disorder, while people wanting a glass of wine with their Sunday lunch often cause some of the worst examples of anti-social behaviour.
Of course, this is a glib comment on a fairly frivolous issue, but it does highlight just how overly officious this kind of thing can be, much like the strict rules that surround Sunday retail trading. Licensing can’t be a free for all, so lines do need to be drawn somewhere, and enforcement action is needed for venues causing problems for their communities. But if we want to start tearing up bits of red tape in this post-Brexit world, maybe this would be a good place to start.
We might get a Costco eventually
There’s a slightly weird mystique to Costco stores in the UK. Maybe it’s the novelty of the big US-style box store. Maybe it’s the air of exclusivity where you have to meet a criteria to become a member even if that criteria is pretty loose.
Kent doesn’t have a Costco, with our nearest store being over at Lakeside, adding an air of further exoticism for us as anything that requires crossing the Dartford Tunnel requires careful consideration.
That might be changing in the future though as the company is apparently seeking to open a location in Kent and, more excitingly for us as a Medway newsletter, we’re in the running as a potential location.
The company is working with Chase Commercial to lead the expansion as they open a number of sites, but who cares about any of the others? Their options for Kent refer to ‘Maidstone or M20 / Medway Towns’, which is unhelpfully vague, but given how demanding they are in what they require, who can really blame them for not being overly precise?
On the company wishlist is a freehold of a 150,000sq ft building with 650 parking spaces and the space to develop a petrol station within 30 minutes of half a million people. Surely there must be plenty of sites within Medway that would be able to supply that? Or maybe not.
Still, if it comes to the worst and Medway Council can’t find the Innovation Park site, it might not be a bad backup plan.
🏥 Medway Hospital is set to receive £3.85m to help them deal with emergencies through winter. The funding will provide 32 new acute beds, which will be ready in January 2024.
📸 Two speed cameras have been removed from Walderslade Road in Chatham after someone managed to completely remove them from the ground. Medway Council hasn’t yet confirmed whether or not the cameras will be replaced.
🏗️ Construction on Maritime Academy in Frindsbury is progressing, as shown in new drone images. The school is set to open next year and will see 1,150 students.
🍝 Medway’s first Zizzi has been confirmed to be opening at Dockside as the chain has submitted a premises licence application. The new restaurant will take over the former Real China and Villagio units at the complex.
🏋️ JD Gyms are set to open at Horsted Retail Park. The opening will complete the redevelopment of the former Toys R Us site and will sit alongside Home Bargains and Aldi.
🛍️ The former WH Smith in Gillingham High Street is set to become a Poundstretcher. The discount store, which sits right next door to Poundland, will open at the end of the month.
⚽ It’s all kicking off in the Medway District Youth football league, where new rules banning Under 8s who also play at a higher level are coming into force. The changes will apparently force at least one team to fold.
🧑🍳 All of the commercial units at Pier 5 at Chatham Dockside are up for let if you’d like to open a new restaurant or take on a trampoline park.
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