Dudley taxi drivers face big bills in windows row

Taxi drivers in Dudley say they are being forced to shell out hundreds of pounds to replace factory-fitted windows on their vehicles because they do not meet council safety regulations.

 At least 40 per cent of light must be able to travel through back windows of Hackney carriages and private hire taxis in order to be granted a licence by Dudley Council but drivers say they are being unfairly treated as new vehicles are increasingly being made with windows that do not meet the standards.

Council bosses have set the 40 per cent limit with safety in mind and as part of its efforts to ensure child sexual exploitation does not take place in the borough. Taxi drivers have come into focus following scandals in places such as Rotherham, with Dudley Council among authorities that has begun training drivers about how to spot the signs of exploitation.

But drivers insist the rules are too severe and that the windows in the taxis can be seen through. Some have already paid to have windows replaced to comply with the standards, while others have resorted to buying older vehicles that come within the limit.

Shaz Saleem, chairman of the Dudley Private Hire and Taxi Association, said: “A growing number of vehicles are coming with a manufactured tint. If they are coming with it, it is within the law and Dudley Council needs to realise it is not above the law. I want to see evidence that this is going to benefit anyone.

“This is affecting a lot of drivers across Dudley. I know one driver who had to spend nearly £1,000 because he had to import windows from Germany because Mercedes didn’t do them here.”

Melvyn Gill, from Sedgley, who drives for SOS Travel, has been unable to use his 60 reg Ford Mondeo which he paid £9,500 for as it does not meet the standards.

He said: “It is on the drive. I am just driving it for my own use but not as a taxi. I have invested nearly £10,000 in a new car and I want to be able to use it to give passengers an improved ride.

“I don’t know where I am going to go from here, it’s going to put me out of business. It’s unfair and unjust.”

Councillor Richard Body, chairman of Dudley Council’s taxi committee, said the situation would be reviewed.

“We need to look at this. Windows can’t be obscured because there is an issue around child sexual exploitation,” he said.

“But if there are cars with tints and they are the basic model and other local authorities are ok with it, we need to look at it.

“I need a report with evidence and I need to speak to my officers before any decisions are made.”

Source: Express & Star

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