Fed-up taxi drivers hold go-slow protest in row over fees with Sandwell Council

The roads around a Black Country town ground to a halt as dozens of taxis took part in a peaceful protest.

There were hundreds of drivers taking part in the protest
There were hundreds of drivers taking part in the protest

Hundreds of Sandwell taxi drivers took place in the protest, which saw taxis run slowly around West Bromwich town centre and the surrounding area between 2pm and 6pm, starting near the Guru Har Rai Gurdwara on the High Street and ending at Sandwell’s taxi licence office, in Cradley Heath.

Jaswinder Dhesi and drivers show off some of their messages to the council

The protest caused massive delays all around West Bromwich and onto the roads heading through Oldbury and Blackheath into Cradley Heath, with long queues seen on the A41 at the start of the protest.

It follows similar protests last year in August and over the Christmas holidays, where up to 200 taxi drivers gathered at the council house to raise their concerns about application processes and doubts about how fair taxi contracts are.

The drivers were vocal in their calls for better rights

Drivers from all over the borough came together to join the protest, which was organised by the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association (SPHDA) in response to a perceived lack of understanding by Sandwell Council around contracts and red tape around licensing.

SPHDA vice-chair and protest organiser Jaswinder Dhesi said the main aim of the protest was to make the council aware of their problems, saying that he felt they hadn't been listened to.

There was an apology to other road users for the delays being caused by the protest

He said: "I personally think that they don't want to listen to us and every time they change the council leader, they seem to not know what our problems are.

"To me, the problem is about too much red tape from the council licensing and they charge the highest fees in Sandwell for badges, as well as making us wait for up to a year, meaning that someone who wants to work within a month can't do so.

"We do apologise to the public for the delays they will have, but we feel we have to do this as our hands are tied by the council, who doesn't want to listen to us. and won't even talk to us."

Jaswinder Dhesi puts out the message of the protest from the front taxi

Mr Dhesi rode at the front of the protest alongside Abid Janjua, who had driven around the borough for 20 years and said he was proud to be part of such a large and passionate protest.

He said: "I am very happy to be united with all the other drivers for this as we have found driving a taxi in Sandwell to be very expensive and difficult, so we just want to make our point and tell them what we think."

Dozens of taxis were involved in the protest

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