'Moral victory' for taxi drivers as Wakefield Council agrees to delay new car rules

Taxi drivers have hailed a "moral victory" after winning major concessions from Wakefield Council in a row over new cars.

Thursday, 19th November 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th November 2020, 1:05 pm
The Wakefield Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association also supported the extension.

Local cabbies had been expected to purchase a specific type of low-emission vehicle before March next year because of the council's green drive.

But some in the trade said they were unable to afford the switch, with the vehicles costing up to £10,000, because of the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on their finances.

A protest by one group, the Wakefield Drivers Association (WDA), had been planned over the issue before lockdown forced it to be postponed.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Wakefield Drivers Association representative Waj Ali.

Now the council has agreed to give cabbies until September 2022 to buy the new vehicles.

Waj Ali, spokesman for the WDA, welcomed the news.

"We've been pushing for this change for years, so this is a really big deal for us," he said.

"It's a moral victory for the trade and we're glad the council seem to have listened to what we've said.

"They've held out the hand of friendship and it's the fair thing to do."

The council has also agreed to relax complex and strict rules regarding how tinted the windows of local taxis must be.

A licensing meeting on Wednesday was told drivers were struggling to buy the new vehicles the council wanted them to, because most of them had glass that was too dark to meet the current requirements.

The local authority has agreed to loosen those requirements, but insisted that passengers will still be visible from outside the vehicles and public safety will not be compromised.

Committee chair Coun Martyn Johnson said he sympathised with taxi drivers and added that the impact of Brexit and the possibility of new tariffs being applied to imported cars may also present more problems for the trade.

"There's a cost to buying these new vehicles and the drivers haven't had a lot of work in the last eight to 10 months," he told the meeting.

"Covid is still going on and we've got Brexit coming too. There may be more issues which will restrict drivers from getting a new vehicle before March."

A separate union of local taxi drivers, the Wakefield and District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association, also welcomed the extension.

The group's chairman, Abdul Rehman, said: "The association would like to thank the council for the work they have done in researching this matter and coming to the decision they did.

"This will be good not only for the trade but for the travelling public of Wakefield."

Local Democracy Reporting Service