Last week's meeting of Longford County Council heard concerns being raised over how a local taxi firm was being forced to consider withdrawing its night time services due to a rise in insurance costs
Doubts surrounding a Longford taxi firm's night time services remaining in place due to a sudden rise in insurance costs is the single biggest threat to the county town's local economy, a meeting has heard.
Nevin’s Taxis revealed last week of the difficult choices it faced after a renewal quote added a likely €60,000 hike to its overall insurance cover for six cars from the end of the month.
Johnny Nevin spoke to Shannonside Radio last week where he told of the likely cost cutting measures that would have to be made, one of which included withdrawing its nighttime service entirely.
In the days since, the company has said it will endeavour to sustain its night time service after a more workable quote was obtained from a different broker.
It didn't stop local politicians, however, from hitting out at last week’s monthly meeting as calls were made to lobby national politicians as well as the financial regulator in an attempt to resolve the impasse.
“I know there is not a lot of things we can do locally but this is a national issue of insurance in general and what insurance companies have been getting away with for the last number of years,” said Cllr Gerry Warnock, as he raised the topic at the start of the meeting.
The Independent local politician said the difficulties facing such a reputable local firm like Nevin’s Taxi’s were obvious.
However, Cllr Warnock also alluded to the potentially more ominous threat any reductions in taxi services locally could have on other local businesses who depend on public transport services to stay afloat.
“It is obvious what it means for the business in that it could wipe out 60 to 70 per cent of its income and it will see lads on part time gigs maybe being rendered unemployed but the most sinister thing is the effect it is going to have and the indirect effect it is going to have on the local economy, particularly in the Longford town area,” he said.
They were sentiments Fine Gael’s Peggy Nolan echoed, adding that she had already raised the fallout with Junior Minister Michael D’Arcy.
Cllr Nolan, who alluded to the economic buoyancy now being felt in Ballymahon ahead of Center Parcs’ arrival next year, accepted the financial hardship facing Nevin’s had potentially far reaching consequences for Longford as a whole.
“This is the biggest blow to Longford over the past 12 months and whatever we (local politicians) can do we have to be seen to be doing,” she maintained.
“Longford has to take a stand on this. We are on our knees as an economy. We are trying to build up Longford and here we have a taxi firm in business for decades and even the thought of them having to remove their night service is unbelievable.”
Cllr Seamus Butler cut an equally frustrated figure as he told of how the huge increases facing firms like Nevin’s Taxis was indicative of an overly exorbitant insruance market.
“We are being ripped off as a nation by insurance companies and the sad fact is there are more and more uninsured drivers on the roads; in this town alone in certain estates there are people driving cars totally uninsured because they have no prospect whatsoever of getting insured or affording insurance,” he said.
Cllr Butler indicated one way of counteracting that problem was by ensuring the insurance market was not just limited to firms at home, but also to companies across the European Union.