Council urges taxi drivers not to blockade Sandwell Aquatics Centre during Games

Sandwell Council has implored local taxi drivers to work throughout the Commonwealth Games instead of blockading the Aquatics Centre in Smethwick.

Taxi drivers protesting in Sandwell
Taxi drivers protesting in Sandwell

The council and Sandwell taxi drivers have been in a year long dispute with Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association about the rules and charges private hire drivers have to pay.

After weekly protests the taxi drivers threatened to cause chaos around the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick during the Commonwealth Games.

The drivers are demanding Sandwell Council reduces licence fees and cuts the number of car safety checks, improves health provision for drivers and allows MOT checks to be carried out by local mechanics instead of being forced to use the authority’s one garage, which they claim is unfit for purpose.

Councillor Laura Rollins, cabinet member for leisure and tourism, told the Express and Star they were working through the drivers' demands.

She said: "Our borough will be welcoming visitors from across the country and all corners of the world over the next couple of weeks, and we hope our valued taxi and private hire drivers will make the most of the opportunity to be a vital part of transporting visitors around Sandwell.

"Taxi and private hire drivers provide a vital service for those who need to travel throughout Sandwell, including for some of our most vulnerable residents.

“In response to issues raised by the taxi trade we agreed a comprehensive plan to make a number of improvements to our taxi licensing service in December 2021. Since then we have implemented changes that address sixteen of the twenty-four issues identified."

She said "We have been considering the eight outstanding requests and balancing these with the need to ensure the safety of passengers. Recommendations that would address these eight issues, including proposals to increase the number of garages approved to carry out safety checks and changes to medical checks, will be considered by the council’s licensing committee on August 16.

"We are committed to continued improvement of our taxi licensing service whilst also ensuring consistent safety standards for taxi and private hire passengers. There are alternative options open to taxi and private hire drivers by which they can obtain a licence."

Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association spokesman Mohammed Niwaz said: "This dispute has been ongoing for a year now. The council need to move faster if they want to stop our protests."

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News