Court hears how congestion charge for minicabs in London does "serious harm" to black and

A court has today heard how the introduction of congestion charging for minicabs in London does "serious harm" to black and ethnic minority (BAME) drivers.

Private hire vehicle drivers in London had their exemption from the £11.50 daily charge removed last April.

As a result of the decision, the Independent Workers Union (IWGB) decided to challenge the withdrawal of the exemption at the High Court.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said the move had been designed to reduce congestion and pollution across London's charging zone. However, the IWGB argues that removing the exemption from minicabs is tantamount to discrimination against a 94% BAME workforce.

The IWGB believe that because 88% of the licensed London's taxi industry are white and exempt from the charge, it reinforces the perceived discrimination.

The union also claim that because women are more likely to work as private hire drivers on a part-time basis, they would also be disproportionately affected.

The union are also claiming that disabled passengers would be adversely affected by the reduction in the number of minicabs available to them, despite the fact that there is no legal requirement for minicab drivers to have disabled-friendly or wheelchair accessible vehicles in London.

The BBC reported that Ben Collins QC, who is representing IWGB, told the court that 71% of minicab drivers affected live in the capital's most deprived areas and have to work long hours to meet their commitments.

However, the Mayor and Transport for London's (TfL) legal team stated that the removal of the exemption was an "important means of reducing road congestion and traffic within the Congestion Charge zone."

They also spoke of the fact that the removal of the exemption does not reduce the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles available to the disabled community.

They went on to explain that the decision was a proportionate act in relation to reducing road traffic and congestion.

With the case being heard over two days, Mr Justice Lewis is expected to reserve his judgment.

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