Wolverhampton taxi drivers protesting over licences turned away from meeting
“What they are doing is morally and ethically wrong. They are destroying the lives of thousands of taxi drivers”.
These were the claims of a West Midlands hackney cab driver who says he has been hit hard by cheap and easy-to-gain taxi licences issued by Wolverhampton council.
Taxi drivers from across the Midlands staged a protest outside the Civic Centre on Wednesday night.
The men had travelled into Wolverhampton to stage the protest after a recent Freedom of Information request revealed more than 4,000 taxi drivers from outside the city have been granted licences in one year by the council – before heading off to work as far away as Manchester, Weymouth and Blackpool.
Just five years ago the council was only granting 60 licences to cab drivers, and claim the increase in applications is down to its new, speedy system.
One driver claimed: “What they are doing is morally and ethically wrong. They are destroying the lives of thousands of taxi drivers.
"Why should we suffer the detriment because Wolverhampton council decide to make a profit from a fast licensing application?
"Protesting here today is our last resort. We have emailed them, we have tried to talk to them but we are getting no response.”
The evening’s protest ended up seeing council security lock the doors of the Civic Centre so the party of more than 30 could not gain entry.
They wanted to sit in the public gallery of the annual full council meeting.
Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chair of licencing at Wolverhampton council said: "A small number of Hackney Carriage drivers from Coventry arrived in Wulfruna Street to protest about increased competition from the private hire trade. Coventry Hackney Carriage fares have recently been identified as the most expensive in the country. This small protest was about protectionism and self-interest and passed off without incident."