HUNDREDS of patients at a doctors surgery in Shoebury have signed a petition to remove an “unnecessary” taxi rank.
More than 670 people have signed the petition to have the rank on a former bus stop outside the Shoebury Health Centre, in Campfield Road, removed.
But taxi drivers say they would fight any plans to do away with the rank.
Councillor Ann Chalk, who has raised the petition, said: “The taxi rank is used rarely and a lot of people are getting tickets from the camera car for dropping off elderly or disabled passengers outside the surgery so that they don’t have to walk far.
“It is quite a walk from the surgery’s car park and there is another rank down the road.
“If this one was taken away and people could be dropped off outside it would make a huge difference to the lives of people using the surgery.”
The rank was put in around six months ago by Southend Council, in place of a bus stop.
Patient Edward Wenden, 69, of Church Road, Shoebury, has used the centre for 33 years. He said: “I was disappointed when they put it in. Taxis can stop anywhere.
"I’d like to be able to spend ten or 15 minutes at the doctor’s without getting a parking ticket.”
But Dave Clift, president of the Southend Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said he would fight efforts to remove it "tooth and nail".
He added: “We get about 20 jobs a day from that taxi rank and phone bookings on top of that. “The people we drop off and pick up there are not well and many of them are disabled.
“If you had all the non-disabled patients stopping there, where would we stop? People who can’t walk can’t be dropped off anywhere else.
“You need a metre and a half to let a wheelchair out, we can’t stop in the middle of the road to do that, and we can’t stop in a disabled bay.”
The petition will be presented at the next available full council meeting.
Southend Council’s group manager of regulatory services, Carl Robinson said: “This taxi rank – on the site of a former bus stop –was installed following a review of taxi ranks in 2011/2012.
“However, a new zebra crossing serving the new Hinguar School may have reduced the opportunity for people to park along on the street to drop off passengers, so we are looking again at this area to see if any additional on-street parking spaces can be found.
“In the meantime, a dedicated car park is available behind the Health Centre itself.”