More than 1,800 taxi drivers and customers in Dudley have signed a petition calling on the council to re-think its policy for only allowing white cars to be used for private hire.
Dudley Council brought in regulations for the single colour scheme to improve safety for residents.
But taxi drivers claim the rules cost them hundreds of pounds extra in higher prices from car manufacturers. They say they have resorted to expensive re-sprays of existing vehicles instead to comply with the rules.
Dudley Private Hire and Taxi Association says the growing popularity of white cars, driven by their use in music videos and by celebrities, has pushed the price of vehicles through the roof.
The colour scheme was introduced in 2006 to make licensed vehicles easily identifiable. However, more than 1,800 people have signed a petition to be presented to the council at a meeting on Wednesday asking for a change in policy.
The association wants at least another colour option, such as silver or grey, to be added to the rules to free up drivers to purchase cheaper cars.
Today, group chairman, Shaz Saleem, managing director at Sedgley-based Beacon Taxis and Express Taxis in Halesowen, said it would be a “common sense” move to help firms hit by high fuel charges and rising insurance bills. He says other drivers have tried to get around the rules by registering in neighbouring authorities such as Sandwell and Wolverhampton.
“The fact the drivers have come together and asked for this is something the council should take into account as this is not just one or two people coming out, this is everyone united,” said Mr Saleem, who is also chairman of Dudley Driver Watch safety scheme in conjunction with West Midlands Police.
“All we want is a common sense approach and a fair hearing for our views.”
A report compiled for Dudley Council’s taxis committee by the authority’s director of corporate resources, Philip Tart, said: “Over the years there have been several serious incidents involving passengers being sexually assaulted, injured and other criminal offences where the police have been able to identify the vehicle as a Dudley licensed vehicle by the colour.”
Mr Tart said the council had contacted main dealers, including Ford and Peugeot, who said white cars can cost up to £450 extra. Others, such as Toyota, said there was no extra cost.