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FORCED FURTHER DEBTS: Glasgow private hire drivers call for delay on Low Emission Zone plans

Image credit: Scottish Private Hire Association (SPHA)

Private Hire drivers have called on Glasgow City Council (GCC) to delay Low Emission Zone (LEZ) plans to stop drivers being forced to take on further debts.

The Scottish Private Hire Association (SPHA) today added their weight behind the mounting pressure on Glasgow City Council to delay the implementation of phase two of Glasgow's low emission zone (LEZ). The Association has contacted the city's councillors urging them to delay enforcement of the zone until the summer of 2024.

Phase two of the LEZ is set to come into force in the summer of 2023, but trade reps at the SPHA say that the next phase of the LEZ rollout will plunge drivers into further debt and force even more drivers out of the trade while it is still struggling with a shortage of drivers.

In a letter sent to all Glasgow councillors, the SPHA said delaying the LEZ start date is important to private hire drivers as they begin to recover from the devastating financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic and all associated events, such as lockdowns and restrictions. The Association also says that even following financial assistance to the trade, many drivers are still in a state of financial hardship and that they need more time to fully recover from the pandemic before being forced to scrap their cars.

Eddie Grice, General Secretary of the SPHA, said: "A great number of private hire drivers require a further extension to the LEZ implementation date so that they can better afford the transition to LEZ compliant vehicles or seek appropriate retrofit solutions. By implementing phase two of the LEZ in 2023, these drivers will be forced to take on further debt to be able to purchase newer, compliant vehicles before they can afford to. We fear this will lead to a further reduction in the number of private hire drivers as many more will be forced out of the trade in 2023 if full enforcement comes into place.

"We are urging the City Administration Committee at Glasgow City Council to vote for a delay in the implementation of the enforcement of phase two of the LEZ until the summer of 2024. We cannot stress enough how negatively private hire drivers will be affected if such a delay is not put in place. We are appealing to the better nature of Glasgow City Council to throw the trade a lifeline and help drivers recover from the effects of the pandemic before making a decision that will plunge drivers into further debt or force even more drivers out of the trade."

John Paul Duffy, SPHA, added: "The other cities bringing in low emission zones have already delayed their LEZ rollouts, including Edinburgh. We implore the city council in Glasgow to delay it here as well. Private hire drivers are just starting to see their trade improve after two years of lockdowns and restrictions. Just as there is light at the end of the tunnel, they now face being forced to scrap their cars before they've even had a chance to get back on their feet properly. The council said they would support the trade and we now need them to honour that promise by throwing us a lifeline and delaying the LEZ coming in."

This follows similar calls from the Glasgow Cab Section of Unite the Union who have also urged the council to delay the LEZ until 2024.

Unite Union Glasgow Cab Section have expressed concerns that they could see around 1,000 iconic taxi vehicles removed from the streets for being non-compliant with new Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) rules coming in next year.

Of the 1,420 taxis licensed by Glasgow City Council, around 1,000 do not meet strict new emissions criteria set for June 2023.

Unite Union Glasgow Cab Section are calling for councillors to make black cabs exempt from the scheme until 2027 to allow the sector to recover sufficiently from the coronavirus pandemic.


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