Group of Wakefield taxi drivers threaten 'disruption' for passengers in strike over new rules

A group of taxi drivers are planning strike action over the introduction of a number of new rules for the industry in Wakefield.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 10:41 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 10:42 am
Drivers are planning to stay at home this Monday, and during evenings and nights the week after.

The drivers involved say they will stay at home between 6am and 6pm on Monday, February 3 and from 7pm until 9am every day between February 10 and February 17.

The group believes the move will cause disruption, and particularly to the night-time economy, which is more reliant on taxis.

The action is being led by local driver Wajid Ali, who claims around 500 cabbies - around a third of the district's entire fleet - are planning to take part.

Wajid Ali accused the council of "not listening" to drivers.

The Wakefield and District Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Association (WDPHHA) which represents a large number of drivers and of which Mr Ali is no longer part, is understood to have distanced themselves from the strike.

But Mr Ali said several drivers were aggrieved with a number of new policies introduced by Wakefield Council, which some have suggested will make trading harder.

Among the policies is the introduction of stickers on licensed vehicles and a move designed to encourage taxi drivers to buy expensive electric cars.

The council has defended the way it legislates the industry, saying it has taken action in the name of public safety.

The Wakefield and District Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association is understood to have distanced itself from the strike.

But Mr Ali said: "What we're going to do will cause disruption to the travelling public. We don’t want that to happen, but feel we have no choice."

"We’re going to stay home and we won’t be taking calls. We're deadly serious.

"As much as the council might like to think they’ve got everything in place, they’re not listening."

Mr Ali said the council's new policy on stickers was unnecessary because drivers already have licensing stickers on their front and back windscreens.

The idea has also drawn criticism from WDPHHA, who said it may lead to attacks on drivers - an issue that has led to recent protests by drivers in Leeds.

Mr Ali also claimed that the push towards electric vehicles was a move that contradicted another rule, as some electric vehicles have tinted windows, which taxi drivers in Wakefield are not allowed to have.

Although local authorities across West Yorkshire have been trying to tighten legislation so that they have something close to a blanket set of rules, Mr Ali said that drivers are "not being listened to".

Glynn Humphries, Wakefield Council’s service director for environment, said: "We are committed to working with drivers and championing passenger safety on behalf of residents.

"We regularly meet with the Wakefield and District Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Association, who represent the majority of drivers in the district, and understand that they have no plans to strike.

"We are aware that a new group is proposing strike action and we will continue to work with the Association to help mitigate any impact this may have.”

Local Democracy Reporting Service