17 Jul Taxi Drivers Stage ‘Go Slow’ in Wolverhampton
Cab drivers staged a ‘go-slow’ in Wolverhampton in protest at the council’s continued lax attitude towards handing out taxi and private hire licenses.
Wolverhampton saw a 383% increase in the number of licenses issued, as we revealed last October, as the council lowered the standards required for those wanting an operator or driver license.
Cabbies gathered on roads around Wolverhampton Science Park from 9am ready to head out from 10am and drove at around 20 mph on Stafford Road onto the city centre ring road.
Sayed Hussain, aged 33, who is a Wolverhampton taxi driver, said: “I knew a driver who came the other side of Newcastle-under-Lyme to pick up his licence.
“How can the council monitor the amount of drivers they are handing licences out to? It is simply not safe, young lives could be at risk.
“If drivers are banned in one borough, they can still get licenses in Wolverhampton and that is wrong. There is a reason why they are banned.”
This is not the first time there has been a demonstration, but it still falls on deaf ears at the council despite the story making the national news. This time, drivers from Coventry joined in to protest against Wolverhampton Council’s system of handing out licenses.
Some Wolverhampton taxi drivers have been working in places as far afield as Weymouth: drivers working for Uber can travel around the country picking up passengers so long as they start their journey in their licensing area.
Secretary of West Midlands Private Hire Drivers Association Richard Corfield said: “We have issues with driving licences that are handed out nationally from Wolverhampton. Plus self employed drivers are being exploited and we want more stringent tests. We want to see that drivers have done a topographical test along with tests in written and spoken English.
“Drivers are coming from all over the country, even as far as Weymouth, to get licences from here.
“We want to sit down with the council and have a meeting. They need to take into consideration that us drivers, who have been doing it for how many years, can have an input on the best way to issue licenses.
“The council are giving out 10 times more licences than boroughs of similar size and population. It cannot cope.
“Whether we get 20 or 200 drivers taking part, success today would be if we raise awareness to the public.”
But the council said that the protests “should be in Westminster, not Wolverhampton” despite the issue being with the City council.
Licensing committee chairman Councillor Alan Bolshaw claimed the protest was “all about restricting competition and customer choice, creating local cartels, and stifling technological innovation.”
He then went on to blame Wolverhampton Council’s stance on handing out licenses to central government, saying:
“Only central government can change the law to allow local councils to manipulate market forces within their areas.
“It is totally wrong to continue to use the people of Wolverhampton as piggy in the middle in this ongoing dispute.”
Fareed Baloch from Zoom.taxi said the drivers “were right to protest against continued action by a council which is bad for drivers and bad for passengers.”
“We need tougher tests to ensure the quality of drivers working in the industry is high, offering safety for passengers and allowing drivers to earn a decent living they can support their families on.
“Yes there needs to be change at a central government level as I have said before, starting with the Deregulation Act of 2015, but other councils don’t act in the cash-chasing manner that Wolverhampton do for the very good reason that they are more concerned about proper rules than they are about just handing out licenses for money.”