THE Balearic supreme high court has rejected an appeal against Palma city council regulations, confirming that all cabs should eventually be white and licences cannot be issued to independent drivers. The taxi firms which are affiliated to the CAEB business confederation had appealed against the Palma city council and the self employed taxi drivers associations. The latter are affiliated to PIME (small and medium business enterprises) and represent 75 percent of the cabbies. In their appeal, the taxi owners said that the change in rules which meant that all taxis have to be white was “arbitrary” although they did not put forward any legal arguments. The magistrates said that their opinion was to be respected, but as it had no legal basis, it was not sufficient to turn over the council agreement.
The cabbies have ten years in which to change the colour of their taxis, but according to Gabriel Moragues, head of the PIME cabbies, “90 percent have already done so.” Regarding the second part of the appeal, limiting the drivers to whom licences were granted, the CAEB taxi owners claimed it infringed constitutional rights, as it said licences could not be transfered to independent drivers, either in the capacity of employed or self employed if they were related to the holder. However, the court sentence said that “it is the function of the Administration to ensure that the taxi service is provided properly.” The court said that the ruling does not affect individual aspects related to the right to work, but takes into account the imbalance between supply and demand. The magistrates quoted various court decisions to back up their rejection of the appeal. They stressed “In short, the taxi service is not a private activity of general interest but a public service which is also confined to its municipality.” The sentence also rules that town councils have “a wide margin in which to manoeuvre” and can impose certain conditions, obligations or restrictions in the granting or suspension of licences.

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