Thursday, February 16, 2017

More than 500 old taxis to be forced off Birmingham streets - and drivers are not happy

More than 500 black taxi cabs could be run off the road by stringent new anti-pollution measures in what has been called a ‘catastrophe’ for the trade.

Details of the new clean air policy were debated by councillors and taxi industry on the day the European Union issued a final warning to the UK over dangerously high pollution levels in 16 cities, including Birmingham and London.

Poor air quality in Birmingham is reckoned to be responsible for 520 extra deaths a year in the city, with vehicle pollution in the city centre and M6 motorway corridor the most affected areas.

The Government has already ordered the city to set up a Clean Air Zone around the city centre by 2020 or face a fine of up to £60 million. Under this high polluting commercial vehicles such as taxis, buses, lorries and coaches could be charged to go within the middle ring road

And now taxi drivers have been dealt a second blow after being told that age limits on their cars could be slashed in December to ensure they are using newer and cleaner cars. This means 530 of the oldest and highest polluting hackney cabs, 43 per cent of the 1,233 on the city’s streets, will have their licenses removed.

A further 1,428 private hire vehicles, or minicabs, out of 4,200 on the streets, would also be barred under the proposals.

But black cabs face particular problems as the new cleaner range of electric cabs produced by the London Taxi Company in Coventryare not due to go on sale until the end of this year.

Ivan Boon of TOA Taxis and the RMT union said it would be a disaster for the industry and passengers.

“Everybody wants cleaner air but this is a catastrophe for the trade. We are talking about taking five to six hundred taxis off the road by December and the new vehicles are not yet available.”

He said the expected cost of £55,000 for the new cab is an investment beyond the reach of many drivers, especially as their existing cabs will now be heavily devalued or even worthless as working vehicles.

Birmingham City Council currently allows black cabs of up to 14 years to be newly licensed and older if they are having the license renewed. It is thought to have one of the oldest fleets in the country due to its previously ‘lenient’ policy.

Government grants of £7,500 are available to drivers buying a cleaner black cab, but drivers also want more help and more time to adapt to the new rules.

Licensing committee members have agreed to 12 weeks consultation over the measures and to write to Government asking for more funding to introduce clean air measures and ease the burden on drivers.

Cllr Basharat Dad (Lab, Stechford and Yardley North) said: “We are not just talking about thousands of cars, but the livelihoods of thousands of drivers and their families.”

But cllr Habib Rehman (Lab, Springfield) reminded the committee why they are looking into the issue: “ When you go to inner city schools you see how many children are taking inhalers with their lunchboxes, its rising.”


Unknown said...

I am a trade rep for the black cab trade
In birmingham ...that said the majority of the cabs in brum are 10 years plus and the drivers need to invest in the trade ..most live in good areas with multiple cars for family but are driving sheds
The airport have a policy of 10 years old
I have asked the council if the trade can take until 2022..2025 to upgrade ..also if you have replace a cab after December 2017 you will have to buy new...totally unfair

Anonymous said...

So, a 1/4 of the minicabs are being pulled, still leaving 2,800+ but 1/2 of the black taxis will lose their licenses? Unbelievable! What on earth are these Councils/TfL etc doing to the trade? How do they all expect these drivers afford £55,000 for a new taxi?

I think the Birmingham guys need to come down to our National Demo, once it's arranged, with their placards, banners, leaflet etc! Let the numbers show how unfairly taxi drivers are being treated!

Anonymous said...

So now this has gone from a emissions issue to a troll issue who claims that becuase some cab drivers live a better neighbourhood with a better house they should get rid of what the troll considers to be a "Shed".
Well let me educate you Mr Green with envy TX4's and Merc Vito's polute more than TX1 TX2 and the so called sheds. The teason these guys can pay their mortgages is because the don't have 50 grand debts on vehicles that aren't worth half the price!

Be lucky.

Javed khan said...

If cab manufacturers produced decent cabs with a decent price tag , more people would be inclined to buy on a regular basis plus after market parts are a worry when your garage asks you 'do you want a genuine or non-genuine part 😡The price on part exchanges by the dealership is a concern having sold the vehicle to you for an extortion amount & after 4/5 years off paying the finance off they offer you a peanut sum if you wish to upgrade...

Anonymous said...

This initiative has nothing to do with pollution, it's about helping a third party manufacturer realise their investment.
The TX4's are more polluting than the FX4s TX1s and 2s that they replaced.
Thousands of perfectly good vehicles were taken off the road and scrapped by Boris and replaced b more polluting models, in order to try to prevent LTI from going bankrupt. But the new cabs they produced were sudstandard and just finished the company off, handing it lock stock and barrel to Geely.

Anonymous said...

Even if we bought Black Prius's the Govt would still find a way to tax and ruin us. Answer, don't vote and strike

Anonymous said...

It's not the old cabs , just re-engine the cabs with LPG engines, much greener than shipping new cabs from China, made from ultra-polluting Chinese steel , and don't forget the emissions from the ships bringing them.