Taxi drivers and the council are on a collision course over the number of cars in Wolverhampton.

There are 174 Hackney Carriages licensed to trade in the city but only 60 rank spaces.

Strike action is being discussed by drivers who also want a rule allowing six-year-old vehicles to join the existing fleet scrapped.

Showdown talks are planned with Wolverhampton City Council next month with drivers already threatening protests and a go-slow demonstration around the city.

Chairman of the The Taxi Owners Association Parminder Sekhon recently demanded a clampdown on the number of foreign cabbies being given licences amid concerns about their level of English.

And Mr Sekhon said a cap on the number of taxis in the city would help safeguard jobs.

“Drivers are prepared to demonstrate outside the Civic Centre and their voices aren’t heard they will do regular go-slows,” he said.

“At the moment drivers are sat at the station for hours. The city is dead and we’re getting no help.

“Letting older cars join the fleet is pointless, especially when there are so many vehicles already.

“How can they – the council – justify anything they say? They’re just looking after themselves.”

Council bosses are hoping to give the city’s night-time economy a boost with more taxis, saying that a lack of available cabs in the evening is ‘damaging’ to the economy.

Mr Sekhon said that was ‘rubbish’ and added: “The taxis aren’t there in huge numbers in the evening but Wolverhampton is not a 24-hour city.

“There’s nothing going on in the evening and sometimes you won’t pick up a fare until 2am. There’s nobody in town.”

The council’s licensing manager Colin Parr said: “We are in regular dialogue with the trade representatives and are already aware of their concerns.

“The policy to relax entry requirements for new Hackney carriage licences in Wolverhampton was agreed by licensing committee with cross-party support two years ago.

“It is acknowledged that there are not enough black cabs working on an evening which is damaging to the night time economy of the city and this policy will help to address that issue.

“It was agreed to introduce the new policy in phases and the final phase, where hackney carriages that are up to six years old will be eligible for new licences, is due to come into effect in April.”

A new taxi waiting area before taxis can queue at the nearby railway station rank was introduced in Chubb Street in 2012. Ranks were opened in Wulfruna Street and North Street in 2013 and then Princess Street last year.

 

Source: Express & Star