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Cabbies to stage go-slow drive around Wolverhampton in licence protest

By Alex Ross | Wolverhampton | Transport | Published:

Taxi drivers are to hold a go-slow protest in Wolverhampton as they demand the city council introduces more stringent tests.

Shaz Saleem, Ebrahim Suleman and Raheel Shah have helped stage previous taxi protests in the city

Drivers say they are being forced out of their living by the surge in licences handed out by the council.

And they want to pressure the council into introducing tougher tests, including a local knowledge exam.

When will the protest be staged?

Drivers will hold a protest on June 28.

It will see hundreds of drivers go at 20mph, starting from Wolverhampton Science Park at 2pm.

Shaz Saleem, an advisor of the West Midland Private Hire Drivers’ Association, said: “So many licences are being handed out that drivers are being forced to work unrealistic hours just to make a living.

“In fact, some are being pushed out altogether. It is all because the council is seeing the dollar signs ahead of policing a local taxi systems.”

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He added: “We want stringent tests which include a local knowledge test and further examination on law.

“We’ve put this to the council but they refuse to listen.

“We want to get around the table.”

Raheel Shah, chairman of Wolverhampton Private Hire Drivers’ Association, said: “There are too many drivers. It means existing drivers are working 60 plus hours to make a living, and that is not safe.”

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Mr Shah, who has been working as a private hire driver for three years, also said the council should relax laws on private hire stickers remaining on vehicles overnight.

He said: “There have been many vehicles parked up overnight which have been broken into.”

Why are the taxi drivers protesting?

The number of private hire licences issued by the city council has risen from 852 in 2015 to 9,388 this year.

Many are issued to drivers operating outside the city.

The test offered by Wolverhampton council is attractive due to it taking 20 working days or less, and costing £69.

It means they can work anywhere in the country, and they are not required to work in Wolverhampton.

In Walsall an application for a private hire licence costs £102, in Sandwell it is £153 and Dudley £242.77.

In 2016/17, Wolverhampton council made £1.29m from taxi licensing.

Drivers held a protest last month outside the city’s Civic Centre after council security prevented the group gaining entry.

Councillor Alan Bolshaw, the chairman of Wolverhampton council's licensing committee, said: "This proposed action is nothing short of outrageous. Protests of this nature do nothing but inconvenience the public."

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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