‘We need a voice’
An association of West Yorkshire taxi drivers has said its members need a greater say in the way their industry is run, after a host of council rulings continue to make their lives ‘harder and harder’.
The Keighley and Bradford Taxi Driver’s Association was set up earlier this year to give a voice to local cabbies who have long complained about licensing around their businesses.
More than one hundred members have reportedly already signed up to the group and they are now hoping that, after the local elections, a representative from the council will begin to open talks in regard to their line of work.
Shabir Ahmed is one of the co-chairmen of the group and has been a taxi driver for more than 20 years.
He explained why his, and many other cabbies’, experience behind the wheel should be enough to give them a say in decisions effecting their trade.
“This same thing is happening every year now,” he said. “We are getting new rules and regulations put on our cars all the time so it is giving us a consistent unwanted experience which isn’t even necessary.
“The people making these rules have no experience of what being a taxi driver is like yet they continue to implement new licensing without even speaking to any drivers who surely have a better idea of what is needed.”
Mr Ahmed says he set up the group, not to just be a ‘yes’ party to all council decisions, but to help fight for what is right for taxi drivers.
“We are here to ask the questions that they don’t necessarily want to hear,” he added. “Whoever has a problem we will help them and hopefully sort it directly with the council.
“Ten years ago your wife for example could drive the taxi to pick up the kids from school. Now it is only the registered taxi driver who is allowed.
“This has given families the added expense of having to buy another, separate car, despite the old policy having no issues with safety.”
Government plans are currently being considered to change a number of red tape restrictions on taxi drivers, which could save up to £9million a year for drivers.
Current rules being considered include: Allowing non-licence holders, perhaps a family member, to drive a private hire vehicle when they are ‘off duty.’; introducing three-year licences for taxis and private hire drivers – and five years for operators – scrapping annual checks in many areas; and allowing minicab operators to ‘subcontract’ bookings to other operators in a different district, without the passenger’s knowledge.
Mr Ahmad said the industry is in dire need of changes and that his friends in the business are the one’s suffering because of ‘false beliefs of what constitute safety’.
“Everything is considered a safety risk now and unless the restrictions are changed by government, the life of a taxi driver will only get harder and harder.”