Taxi drivers in Cheltenham are pleading for a two year extension to recover from the financial impact of COVID-19, before moving over to new mandatory Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAV) measures brought in by the council.
Malcolm Rogers, a Cheltenham taxi driver of 30 years, has seen many changes to the taxi trade. This week he has created a petition to highlight the current challenges facing the industry, which are leaving many cab drivers struggling to financially survive.
Rogers has urged Cheltenham Borough Council to re-think their decision to introduce new measures forcing taxi drivers to invest heavily in new WAVS by 2021.
After months of lockdown and with work levels still currently at an all-time low due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many drivers see no way of affording the new vehicles.
Rogers wrote to Cheltenham Borough Council saying: “I write to you today to ask you for an extension to the transition over to wheelchair vehicles.
“The world has been thrown into an unprecedented phenomena that has changed the lives of us all. Many of us are having to look for other ways to earn our living, millions of people have lost their jobs, with millions more having to go into debt to survive this crisis.
“The taxi drivers are at their wits end with the added worry of little or no work out there. I myself have sat for eight hours without a job, the average weight is four hours per job, we have never known anything like this before.
“We know the decision has been made by the council to change over to WAV taxes in 2021, but that decision was taken before COVID-19 hit us. Since that time many of us have lost family and friends to the dreadful deadly disease, we have been in lockdown for months, unable to earn a living, and having to spend our savings to make ends meet.
“We are asking you to please give us a minimum two year extension to the 2021 date so we can get back on track.
“Or if not, at least make it that the next time we change our cars we buy a WAV.
”In view of these unprecedented changes to the world since the decision was made to have WAVs, I ask on behalf of the taxi drivers for a new council meeting with the taxi forum and drivers.”