Taxi drivers stage 'go-slow' protest in Wolverhampton in licensing row
Taxi drivers staged a further 'go-slow' protest on the streets of Wolverhampton today in an ongoing row over licensing.
Cabbies gathered on roads around Wolverhampton Science Park from 9am ready to head out from 10am.
The group drove at around 20 mph on Stafford Road onto the city centre ring road
Sayed Hussain, aged 33, who is a Wolverhampton taxi driver, said: “I knew a driver who came the other side of Newcastle-under-Lyme to pick up his licence.
"How can the council monitor the amount of drivers they are handing licences out to? It is simply not safe, young lives could be at risk.
“If drivers are banned in one borough, they can still get licenses in Wolverhampton and that is wrong.
There is a reason why they are banned.”
It came less than a month after hundreds of drivers staged a similar demonstration.
Cabbies from Coventry joined union officials to campaign against Wolverhampton Council's private hire licensing system.
They say the authority has issued thousands of licences to Uber drivers operating all around the country, threatening the livelihoods of black cab drivers in places including Coventry.
- The Express & Star goes inside Wolverhampton Council’s private hire licensing system
- Pictures and video from last month's protest
Some Wolverhampton taxi drivers have been working in places as far afield as Weymouth.
The West Midlands Private Hire Drivers Association is behind the latest protest today.
Secretary of West Midlands Private Hire Drivers Association Richard Corfield said: “We have issues with driving licences that are handed out nationally from Wolverhampton. Plus self employed drivers are being exploited and we want more stringent tests. We want to see that drivers have done a topographical test along with tests in written and spoken English.
“Drivers are coming from all over the country, even as far as Weymouth, to get licences from here.
“We want to sit down with the council and have a meeting. They need to take into consideration that us drivers, who have been doing it for how many years, can have an input on the best way to issue licenses.
“The council are giving out 10 times more licences than boroughs of similar size and population. It cannot cope.
“Whether we get 20 or 200 drivers taking part, success today would be if we raise awareness to the public.”
Wolverhampton Council dismissed earlier protests as 'pointless' saying any demonstrations should be directed to law makers in Westminster.
Council officials claimed only 20 vehicles took part.
WATCH: Union explain reasons behind protest
Wolverhampton Council's licensing committee chairman, Councillor Alan Bolshaw, said: “Today’s protest involved about 20 drivers and passed off without incident, causing no disruption the public.
“We repeat that these protests should be in Westminster, not Wolverhampton.
“It’s all about restricting competition and customer choice, creating local cartels, and stifling technological innovation.
“Only central government can change the law to allow local councils to manipulate market forces within their areas.
"It is totally wrong to continue to use the people of Wolverhampton as piggy in the middle in this ongoing dispute.”