Bristol Taxi Drivers Petition Council Over ‘Unfair’ Rules

Taxi drivers in Bristol are today handing over a petition to the City’s council detailing a list of concerns they say is threatening their livelihood.

Included in the gripes facing drivers are plans to charge drivers a congestion charge and concerns over Uber drivers registered in London but working in Bristol.

The controversial multinational company launched in Bristol two years ago and has recruited hundreds of drivers to join its gig fleet.

Since then, unions have raised several concerns over the pay and working conditions of Uber drivers and the company’s failure to carry out criminal checks and reluctance to report sexual offences.

It is this mixture of reasons which has prompted Transport for London (TfL) to revoke the firm’s licence in the capital which has led some of its drivers to move to other towns and cities in the UK.

The petition, which is due to be submitted to the council’s Public Safety and Protection Committee at City Hall today (Tuesday) also includes anger over cab colour which drivers say is putting them at a further financial disadvantage.

The council say it “acknowledges the challenges facing the taxi trade” and claims it is working to “remedies to these issues” but the petition supporters say that it is city hall measures which are causing many of the problems.

Issues highlighted including the reduction in the number of taxi ranks, the MOT regime, the proposed congestion charge and the requirement for the vehicles to be painted blue.

The petition states the colour requirements mean “to buy a new car in the shade of blue that meets your requirements is almost impossible” because “manufacturers of vehicles change their shades of blue on a regular basis.”

“We request a review on the colour as we feel not enough thought has been given to the financial impact on drivers.”

In London most private hire vehicles are hybrid or even electric, to ensure they fall outside of the requirements to pay emissions charges. Taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) are exempt from paying the Congestion Charge and the T-Charge when actively licensed with TfL. The exemption for PHVs only applies to private hire bookings.

“We request that you remove the proposal of charging public hire taxis a city centre emissions charge on the grounds that this is a public transport licensed by yourselves and we have to go where the customers want is to including the city centre – hence it is unfair to charge us for what we have no choice [sic].” Chief Operating Officer Fareed Baloch said the proposals “risked further squeezing the industry which is already struggling thanks to high fuel prices and increased competition from Uber which uses tax loopholes to charge artificially lower prices.

“Bristol City Council needs to exempt private hire vehicles and taxis from the new congestion charge otherwise the costs will just be passed onto the consumer and damage the industry.

“Competition is good for passengers and good for businesses: ensuring a level playing field is the sort of work a regulatory body should be doing and I fear that an extra tax will move us further away from that.”

The group has also raised concerns about the number of London-licenced Uber drivers working in the city and wants the council to follow Transport for London and ban the company from operating in the city.

There have already been two protests in the city this year about the council’s policies. A spokesman for BCC said, “Bristol City Council acknowledges the challenges facing the taxi trade set out in the petition and we are working with trade representatives to consider remedies to these issues. We would like to thank the trade associations for engaging with us on these issues.”

They added: “We would like to remind all involved with the trade that if they have concerns or any issues that they wish to present to the Council, these should be brought to the Taxi Forum or planned meetings at SARI by trade representatives. By doing this we can ensure that those issues and concerns are given the proper due care and attention to allow for meaningful solutions to be discussed.”

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