Cabbies say out-of-town firms are stealing trade from Liverpool drivers and are planning a no confidence vote in licensing bosses.
Liverpool cabbies are to take a vote of no confidence in council taxi licensing bosses over the amount of trade they’re losing to out-of-town firms.
Hackney and private hire drivers said they were losing up to 70% of their business to firms licensed outside the city boundary, but that the council was not doing enough to crack down on out-of-town cab companies which they said should not be operating in Liverpool.
But the council claimed it was doing its best to enforce against drivers and firms breaking the rules, and Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said he wanted customers to use city firms instead of out-of-town firms like Delta.
The council said the law made it difficult to stop firms like Sefton-based Delta from doing business in the city.
On a petition being distributed among the city’s 6,000 hackney and private drivers, the Liverpool Taxi Alliance states: “Our trade morale has now arrived at its lowest, taxi and private hire drivers have lost all quality of family life, some are depressed and suffer stress related illnesses, sometimes up to 80 hours a week to make ends meet.
“It is about time that Liverpool City Council viewed all those taxi and private hire drivers who pay fees ... as honourable custodians of the trade, who deserve help in safeguarding the trade and our jobs.”
Spokesman for the Liverpool Taxi Alliance Jimmy Bradley told the ECHO: “Most taxi drivers are now relying on working tax credits, drivers who are going out of their way to work 50 to 80 hours a week need the government to help them pay the bills.”
He added there were times drivers themselves were having to point out to enforcement officers what the rules were, and that “the rules seem to be being made up as they go along.”
A council spokesman said the authority was putting more resources into enforcement in order to protect the trade of legitimate, licensed drivers.
He added: “We are working closely with taxi driver representatives and UNITE to tackle the issues they are concerned about. We have doubled the size of our enforcement team over the last year and they now work overnight to deal with issues when pubs and clubs close.
"Over the past two months alone we have issued a total of 78 summons, written cautions and fixed penalties tickets to drivers found to be flouting the law and carried out enforcement operations in partnership with Merseyside Police every single weekend in the city centre and at football matches.
“The number of hackney ranks in the city centre has been increased, including a double lane super-rank on Victoria Street which is marshalled at weekends, and we have also improved signage.”
Mayor Joe Anderson added: “We are restricted and constrained by the law in what we can do but, as far as I’m concerned I want everyone in Liverpool to use Liverpool registered taxis and private hire companies.”
Paul McLoughlin, boss of Sefton-registered Delta Taxis, said the rules meant that as long as the driver, vehicle and operator were all licensed in the same borough, they could operate anywhere in the UK.
The firm this year is on target to have taken 10m bookings, double the nearest competitor in the UK and second only to a firm in Singapore.
He added: “As far as we are concerned, the council’s doing a fantastic job, everything the law requires, but it’s the city taxi drivers who want to take the law back 100 years.
“If other firms invested the same in technology and training as we do then they might have the same success.”
Source: the Liverpool Echo.