GMB, the trade union for thousands of Hackney and Private Hire drivers, is set to hold a demo outside of Sheffield Town Hall today in protest over wild-west deregulation of Private hire and Hackney licences.
The union will be linking up with other taxi trade representatives to hold demos in towns and cities across the UK.
The Government's Deregulation Bill has created a wild-west situation in many towns and cities, where some licensing authorities such as Transport for London (TFL) are issuing licenses for taxis who are then operating out of TFL jurisdiction, and in some cases, in areas where licenses have already been refused to those drivers.
Cross border authority licensees plying for hire is taking place, where reports are regularly made of TFL license drivers, operating and plying for hire in York, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Southend, Hatfield, Brighton, Cardiff and Reading to name just a few. Recently in Southend licenses were refused to some drivers, who then went to TFL and obtained a license and are now operating in Southend, outside of TFL jurisdiction.
UBER who are not allowed a license to operate in places such as Reading, Hatfield and other areas, are taking bookings and plying for hire in those areas. This is having a disastrous effect on enforcement and safety and allows unregulated plying for hire, without national enforceable standards, and agreed rigorous safeguarding and licensing checks, whilst ensuring that vehicle and insurance standards are not properly in place as required for that area.
It is reported that over a thousand licenses a month are being issued by TFL, with virtually little or no regulation to ensure compliance as a number of these drivers are plying for hire outside TFL jurisdiction. This is having a detrimental effect on local Hackney and Private Hire drivers who are operating lawfully and have the local knowledge, are compliant with safeguarding and who are charging the correct fare.
GMB Yorkshire & North Derbyshire Organiser, Bob McNeill, said: “Cross border plying for hire is a real problem for our professional Private Hire and Hackney drivers. The Deregulation Bill has meant licensing authorities such as TFL are free to issue licenses without rigorous checks and safeguards in place, making enforcement and safety extremely difficult in the Yorkshire & North Derbyshire region's licensing authorities, allowing companies such as UBER to operate without consequences. GMB are calling on the Government to listen to our professional drivers and introduce national enforceable standards and safeguards to protect our members and the travelling public."
GMB Branch Secretary for South Yorkshire Professional Drivers' Branch, Ibrar Hussain, said: "Cross border hiring is killing our taxi trade; Government needs to act urgently as deregulation is putting public safety at risk, allowing TFL to act with impunity and is restricting the powers of licensing authorities to enforce standards and safeguards."
For further detail contact Bob McNeill on 07961-761806 or Caroline Jones on 0345 337 7777
Protest and photo opportunity: Tuesday 28th February, Town Hall, Sheffield, S1 2HH, 1pm to 2pm