How long can the authorities ignore the protests?
London taxi drivers have blocked Parliament Square in an ongoing protest against plans to restrict access on certain roads in the capital. The decision to exclude taxis from Tottenham Court Road on the grounds of safety and air quality, but not buses, has been met by anger from some within the industry. Since late January ongoing daily demonstrations organised by the taxi activist group the “ITA” have taken place in various locations in London. The group argues that the taxi, a public transport vehicle, has been overlooked despite moving to zero emission vehicles and recent concerns over bus safety. Cabbies who use Tottenham Court Road will face a £130 fine if they pass through the restrictions.
On the same day today private hire drivers also continued their protest against the congestion charge introduced by Transport for London, which will see their take home pay slashed by 25%.
The protest called by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain's (IWGB) United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch against regressive congestion charges on minicabs to be introduced in April, builds on previous demonstrations that have so far been attended by thousands of drivers. The growth of these protests shows the rising anger among minicab drivers that feel ignored by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who refuses to speak to them or address their concerns. The policy introduced by the Mayor and Transport for London amounts to a “tax on the poor” and will see minicab drivers’ take home pay slashed by up to 25%, while doing little to reduce congestion. TfL expects its policy to reduce congestion by only 600 cars per day or just 1% of the private hire traffic that goes through the congestion zone. Analysis included in TfL’s report to the Mayor shows that air quality is expected to get worse as a result of the plan.