Taxi drivers

Council urges taxi drivers not to block Sandwell Aquatics Center during Games

Taxi drivers protest in Sandwell

The Sandwell council and taxi drivers have been in a year-long dispute with the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association over the rules and the fees private hire drivers must pay.

After weekly protests, taxi drivers have threatened to wreak havoc around the Sandwell Aquatic Center in Smethwick during the Commonwealth Games.

Drivers are calling on the Sandwell Council to reduce license fees and the number of car safety checks, improve driver health conditions and allow MOT checks to be carried out by local mechanics instead of being forced to use the authority’s only garage, which they claim is unfit. for purposes.

Councilor Laura Rollins, a cabinet member for leisure and tourism, told the Express and the Star they were working on the drivers’ requests.

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

“Private taxi and hire drivers provide a vital service for those who need to get around Sandwell, including some of our most vulnerable residents.

“In response to issues raised by the taxi industry, we have agreed on a comprehensive plan to deliver a number of improvements to our taxi licensing service in December 2021. Since then we have implemented changes which address sixteen of the twenty-four issues identified.”

She said: “We have reviewed the eight outstanding requests and balanced them with the need to ensure passenger safety. Recommendations that would address these eight issues, including proposals to increase the number of garages approved for perform security checks and change medical conditions checks, will be reviewed by the council’s licensing committee on August 16.

“We are committed to continuing to improve our taxi licensing service while ensuring consistent safety standards for taxi and private hire car passengers. There are other options open to taxi and car hire drivers. private rental through which they can obtain a licence.”

Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association spokesman Mohammed Niwaz said: “This dispute has been going on for a year now. The board needs to act faster if it wants to stop our protests.”