Sheffield taxi drivers to protest against 'wild west' Government regulations

Taxi driver and GMP rep Ibrar Hussain
Taxi driver and GMP rep Ibrar Hussain
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Taxi drivers will gather outside Sheffield Town Hall tomorrow to protest new rules they say have created a 'wild west' working environment.

GMB, the trade union for thousands of Hackney cab and private hire drivers, has organised the demonstration to oppose the Government's Deregulation Act, which allows taxis to operate across the whole country rather than in a specific local authority area.

This, the union says, has meant drivers registered in London and other areas are working in Sheffield. GMB is also targeting Uber, which it says is not subject to the same checks as locally-registered driver.

The Star revealed in September more than 700 city drivers were licensed by other authorities.

Sheffield taxi driver and GMB rep Ibrar Hussain said: "Cross border hiring is killing our taxi trade.

"Government needs to act urgently as deregulation is putting public safety at risk, allowing Transport For London (TFL) to act with impunity and is restricting the powers of licensing authorities to enforce standards and safeguards."

GMB Yorkshire and north Derbyshire organiser Bob McNeill added: "The Deregulation Act has meant licensing authorities such as TFL are free to issue licenses without rigorous checks and safeguards in place, making enforcement and safety extremely difficult in the Yorkshire and north Derbyshire region's licensing authorities, allowing companies such as Uber to operate without consequences.

"GMB are calling on the Government to listen to our professional drivers and introduce national enforceable standards and safeguards to protect our members and the travelling public."

Many Sheffield politicians have backed the union's campaign.

The council's cabinet member for the environment Bryan Lodge said: “Cross-border working and the influx of out-of-town vehicles into Sheffield has been caused by the Deregulation Act 2015, and in turn this has seriously undermined what we do as a licensing authority.

“In our view, it puts members of the public at risk when, unknowingly to them, they get into a vehicle from another authority, some which may be from a great distance away.

“We will continue to do everything we can to support the taxi trade associations. Hopefully this may result in a change to the Deregulation Act and protect those drivers that have become properly licensed through Sheffield Council.

“We will also be working with South Yorkshire Police in the coming weeks to specifically look at the out-of-town vehicles and drivers.”