'Livelihoods at risk' Watch as taxi drivers stage angry demonstration outside County Hall in Wakefield
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Drivers held a demonstration outside the Wakefield One building and County Hall ahead of a full council meeting on Wednesday (July 21).
Drivers are calling on the council to increase the age limit of taxi vehicles, in line with neighbouring local authorities.
Yaser Ahmed, president of WDA, said drivers also want to be allowed to remove vehicle stickers as it makes them a target for anti-social behaviour.
Mr Ahmed said: “The main issue is the vehicle age limit in Wakefield.
“If a car reaches ten years old it has to be replaced.
“In a cost of living crisis we think it unfair for drivers to have to replace a vehicle.
“Kirklees, Bradford and Leeds have all increased it to 15 or 16 years.
“All we are saying is at least give us some relief.
“We met with councillors and licensing officers last week and they say they are looking at it.
“But that is not good enough. We need help now. Next year will be too late for many of us.”
Akef Akbar, independent councillor for Wakefield East ward, spoke in support of the taxi drivers in the council chamber.
He accused the Labour-controlled council of ignoring drivers while campaigning in support of rail staff as they try to stop the closure of ticket offices at Wakefield Westgate station.
He said: “The level of hypocrisy is unreal.
“We have a bunch of taxi drivers here petitioning for things that we are in charge of and we are ignoring them.
“All we hear, time and time again, is that it is being worked on and we have no time limit.”
Clive Tennant, chair of the licensing committee, said: “We have met with members of the Wakefield Drivers Association and are now considering their request for changes to our existing licensing rules.
“Our priority is, and always will be, passenger safety and their health and wellbeing.
“We understand that the Wakefield District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association, who represent the majority of drivers in the district, do not support the demonstration and will not be participating.”
WDA previously held a series of city centre protest urging the council to scrap the so-called ‘six point rule’.
Under policy, which was changed in January this year, drivers who racked up more than six points on their licence for minor offences in three years faced lengthy bans from the trade.