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Final plea made by Glasgow Taxis to offer Low Emissions Zone reprieve to struggling taxi trade

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

Image credit : Ross Campbell remixed

Glasgow Taxis Ltd has written to Glasgow City Council warning of the devastating impact on the trade should a key committee paper on the timescale for the city’s Low Emission Zone be passed today without a reprieve being offered to cabbies.

While Glasgow Taxis has always been in total support of the purpose and ambitions of the Low Emission Zone, they say this support has been tempered by timescale due to the impact of Covid on the trade.

Despite Glasgow taxi drivers experiencing two years, almost to the day, of reduced trade and restricted working opportunities due the pandemic, the deadline for taxis to meet LEZ requirements has been extended by just five months. Taxi drivers in other Scottish cities have benefitted from longer extensions.

Now, on the day of the “Low Emission Zone - Final Scheme and Formal Submission” paper going before the City Administration Committee (CAC), Glasgow Taxis chairman Dougie McPherson has given one final, stark warning to the council that no further extension will expediate the demise of the trade.

Glasgow Taxis’ ‘death by 1000 cuts’ future trade forecast has been presented to council officers and elected members, including the council leader, for around two years, including the impact of the LEZ implementation date.

In his letter emailed to Councillor Anna Richardson, he said: “The introduction of the LEZ as proposed on 1 June 2023 will… be devastating to the service provision of public hire taxis, a key component of the public transport network in the City.

“Without the ability to source, finance and operate compliant vehicles, the City Council is condemning the loss of the majority of the City’s current provision of taxis of 1,428 to circa 400 cabs.

“If this is the plan, then I believe you have duty to make the councillors and the wider public in Glasgow aware of this and the justification for doing so on the back of COVID.

“I request that the Paper before the CAC on 10 March 2022 be amended to exclude the application of the LEZ to public hire vehicles (black hackney taxis) from 1 June 2023 in order to align with other Scottish cities and to allow for further dialogue with taxi trade on achievable transition arrangements.”

A more detailed look at the correspondence sent is as follows:

“Dear Councillor Richardson, I make reference to your ‘Low Emission Zone - Final Scheme and Formal Submission’ Paper before the City Administration Committee (CAC) on 10 March.

“On behalf of Glasgow Taxis and the wider taxi trade across Glasgow, I request that this Paper be amended to exclude the application of the Low Emission Zone to Public Hire Vehicles (Black Hackney) from 1 June 2023 to allow for further dialogue with taxi trade on achievable transition arrangements.

“Without this intervention, this Paper will undoubtedly expedite the demise of Glasgow’s taxi trade with an abrupt reduction in City’s taxi provision from 1,428 to 400 (circa)!”

Background – ‘Death by 1000 Cuts’

Glasgow Taxis continued: “Firstly, I appreciate the personal support you, Councillor Aitken, George Gillespie and your other Council colleagues have provided Glasgow Taxis over the last 18 months in considering the wider issues impacting the Public Hire (Black Hackney) trade in Glasgow.

“However, as you may recall, the working title of my presentation to you was ‘Death by 1000 Cuts’ due our main proposition that unless appropriate support is provided by the City Council and other to address the various issues impacting the future viability and sustainability of the taxi trade, then we would lose it by the end of the decade.

“I note that no-one in the City Council has disputed our findings and conclusions in the Presentation.

“The urgent focus of this correspondence is the provisions in your Paper to the CAC is going to withdraw the ability of half the City’s fleet of taxis from being able to operate almost overnight without any realistic ability to meet the requirements set out.

I am certain this is not your intention!”

They go on to explain more about the impact that the LEZ will have on Public Hire Taxis: “Will attempt to be succinct in outlining the pressing points that, left unaddressed in your Paper, will undoubtedly lead to the decimation of the taxi trade in Glasgow: You will recall that a key assertion made in our ‘Death by 1000 Cuts’ presentation was that public hire taxis are part of the public transport provision of Glasgow.

“The audience in the Council has agreed and moreover has supported our view that the long term sustainability for the taxi trade is therefore critical to the ambition for an integrated transport solution.

“In further support of status as ‘public transport’, I would like to draw reference to the recent Parliamentary Debate during the Second Reading of the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill in the House of Lords where Lord Holmes of Richmond stated in his contribution to the Debate: “Why do we not see them {taxis and public hire vehicles} more clearly in public policy as an absolutely key part of public transport?”

In her response on behalf of the Government, Baroness Vere of Norbiton, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport said: "Lord Holmes talked about taxis and PHVs as public transport and, to an extent, the Government agree. We see them as an integral part of the wider transport network. Any good local authority will think incredibly carefully about how these vital services are able to reach people and then drop them off at their destinations, particularly those who are disabled and others who may be vulnerable."

Glasgow Taxis continued: “Whilst such proposed legislation does not apply in Scotland, I am sure agree the sentiment does and moreover the context is relevant, especially in relation to the reference to the reliance on taxis trade by those who are disabled, have mobility issues or are vulnerable.”

Glasgow Taxis Initial Support for LEZ

At the launch of the City’s ambition for the LEZ, Glasgow Taxis was supportive with cognisance to the proposed timetable. But, the LEZ timetable in respect of public hire vehicles should have been sufficiently due to the disproportionate impact of COVID on the taxi trade.

Both Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council have recognised the pressure COVID has placed on the taxi trade. This has been reflected in the grant funding that has been made to taxi operators and drivers.

The three other cities in Scotland scheduled to introduce LEZ have taken COVID fully into consideration as part of their planning and revised the date of implementation accordingly (Dundee - May 2024; Aberdeen - Jun 2024).

Only Glasgow has chosen to disregard the full impact of COVID by merely extended the introduction for 5 months, Glasgow Taxis have stressed.

It was anticipated that during the period of transition towards a LEZ implementation date, there would have been active dialogue between the Council and the taxi trade on support, especially on account of COVID.

As previously highlighted, other authorities in the UK have provided financial support to their taxi operators to transition towards Hybrid and Euro VI vehicles (for example, Manchester City Council).

Glasgow Taxis says the City Council has failed to provide a response to their request for such schemes elsewhere in the UK to be explored and considered.


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