Capital's Cabbies See Long Road Ahead for Economy

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES ROSSITER

LONDON'S economy faces a bleak road ahead following a steady shift down in gear over the past nine months, according to the latest poll of the capital's cabbies. Less than half are optimistic about their business over the next quarter, compared with three-quarters of taxi drivers who were upbeat at the height of last summer.

After a flurry of grim news of Christmas trading on the High Street, London's black-cab owners completed the picture of consumers spending less as they noted the biggest fall in trips to tourist attractions in a year.

More than half had seen a fall in such journeys, against one in four last July.

The findings are contained in the quarterly BTES "market meter" report to the end of January, compiled by corporate recovery specialists Begbies Traynor in exclusive association with the Evening Standard.

Nick Hood, Begbies' London senior partner, said the cabbies' gloom mirrored worries on the business front, with his team "having been at their most manic over Christmas for 15 years".

The number of construction firms looking to rejig their debts using the new company administration scheme had more than doubled at Begbies. Hood also noted his firm was "seeing a surge in business rescue activity" from leisure and retail firms facing a cash crunch over the new year.

Figures from the DTI recently showed a drop in outright business failures through insolvency but a rise in administrations, a form of "rescue" procedure used by troubled companies who want to trade their way out of crippling debt. …