More than 100 taxi drivers quit the trade

More than 100 taxi drivers have quit the trade because they can’t afford new cabs to meet clean air standards.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 2:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th September 2019, 3:23 pm
Aftab Ahmed, Coun Bob Johnson, Ibrar Hussain

Former councillor Ibrar Hussain, speaking on behalf of taxi drivers, told a council meeting that a new electric black cab costs £58,000.

He presented a petition with 178 signatures from taxi drivers worried about plans for a Clean Air Zone around the city centre and said almost 80 per cent of taxi drivers took part in a recent consultation on the plans.

“I set up this petition online in the last few days and what a fantastic response from the taxi trade,” he said.

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“The biggest concern is Euro 6 vehicles. The trade is 3,000 drivers – 1,900 private hire and 857 black cabs but 100-plus have surrendered their licence because they can’t afford to buy new vehicles or continue.

“If Euro 6 diesel vehicles are not allowed, the black cab trade will be decimated because the new electric vehicles are £58,000 onwards. Private hire will also be very badly affected.”

The zone, around the ring road and inner ring road, would see a charge of £50 a day for buses and £10 a day for taxis, lorries, vans and coaches.

It’s an attempt to slash the levels of nitrogen dioxide amid pressure from the Government but the council needs £50m to go ahead with it.

Mr Hussain added: “This petition is asking the scrutiny board to look at the detail and breakdown of the responses and, as a trade, we want to put our representation and ideas before a submission is made to the government in December.

“We need to work together in true partnership because this is about people’s livelihoods not politics. Lessons need to be learned from other zones in other cities which are allowing Euro 6 vehicles.

“This has to be phased in, has to be worked on together and has to be done in a true partnership.

“With the shenanigans in Westminster we don’t even know if the zone will go ahead because it’s a proposal so let’s not have a knee jerk reaction but a collective decision making that will result in us pulling together so decisions that affect people are done properly.”

Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for transport, said there had been an “amazing” response to the consultation, which will now be analysed.

“This is the end of the official consultation but I have a commitment to continue to meet with the taxi trade and small businesses affected with vans. I have a continued commitment to work with them up to our submission.

“We want to reduce pollution rather than just collect fines. If we collected nothing from the zone I would consider that a success. It’s not about taxing people it’s about tackling the vehicles creating the most pollution.”