Taxi drivers

More protests as Sandwell taxi drivers call for action

Protesters demand lower tariffs and other financial support, as well as less time for licenses

More than 100 private taxi drivers joined a protest outside Sandwell Council House on Tuesday to voice their continued demands for the council to tell them about the long delays and high prices for license renewals in the borough.

It was the latest in a series of protests by members of the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association (SPHDA), following a slow protest in the streets of West Bromwich and other parts of the borough on May 4.

Mohammad Niwaz and Mohammed Ramzan lead the protest outside Sandwell Council House

It currently takes between nine and 12 months for new private hire license applications to be processed at Sandwell, compared to around three weeks at Wolverhampton.

Additionally, a one-year-old taxi plate costs £353 for a vehicle less than five years old and £399 if it is older, if the vehicle is registered with Sandwell Council, with other councils charging considerably less.

SPHDA chairman Mohammed Niwaz said the protest was necessary because of what he described as a lack of communication and consideration on the part of council leader Kerrie Carmichael.

He said: “We were supposed to have a meeting in March about it but she said she didn’t know anything about it and said it would be rearranged for another month but then she said local elections meant that she should do it another time. .

“Finally she is coming back to us with a date of June 15 to meet about it, so at that time we wrote to her saying she was not serious enough to talk to the drivers after we had waited so long.

“That’s why we decided to demonstrate outside the town hall on Tuesday because we want them to understand that we want justice, we want our fees reduced and more help with MOTs and help to reduce our costs. “

Mr Niwaz said there was no response from any council member during the protest and said if they hear nothing in the coming week they are ready to make more protests .

He said: “If the leader of the council or a member of the council does not come back to us with a new date, we are ready to demonstrate again with a slowdown or a demonstration on June 7, when they have a full council. Meeting .

“We want them to sit down with us and see what they come up with so we can move on, but it doesn’t look like anything is happening yet so we will continue to protest until something happens.”

A Sandwell Council spokesperson said: “We are making a number of improvements to our taxi licensing service in response to concerns raised by the taxi industry and in support of our licensed drivers and operators.

“This includes the introduction of new licensing software to enable applications and online payments.

“We meet regularly with representatives of private drivers and provide updates on the progress of improving services.

“We are committed to further changes to improve the licensing process and ensure consistent standards for taxi and private hire car passengers.”