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Glasgow's Low Emissions Zone taxi CRISIS looms

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

Image credit : Ross Campbell

With Low Emissions Zone rules coming into play next year, real concerns are being raised about the amount of taxis which could be left to actively operate in the city.

Unite Union Glasgow cab Section have stressed that around 1,000 iconic taxi vehicles could be taken off the roads in one swoop if an additional extension to meet requirements isn’t implemented.

Currently, out of the 1,420 taxis licensed by Glasgow City Council, around 1,000 do not meet the requirements set to come into play in just over a year.

Councillor Thomas Kerr spoke of the potential crisis, saying: “These are the real life implications if Councillors don’t give our cabbies an exemption to the LEZ. They’ve had a horrendous time due to the pandemic. The Glasgow Conservatives stand with them, time for others to do the same.”

Glasgow City Council has since amended plans slightly to reflect the impact of the pandemic on the uptake of the retrofitting scheme. Taxi operators who can demonstrate by early 2023 that they have applied for retrofitting grants, are awaiting vehicle conversion work or are in the process of purchasing a compliant vehicle will now be able to run their business without penalty should their taxi not yet be compliant by the time the LEZ becomes enforceable.

And although it's some way of moving in the right direction, the amendments have faced criticism.

In response to the plans announced, a Unite Glasgow Cab Section spokesperson said via social media: “Still processing the decision yesterday (Thursday) to condemn a thousand plus jobs in Glasgow. At a time when we are facing record high fuel prices and cost of living going through the roof. Must rank as one of the most pig-headed and heartless decisions ever made in the city chambers.”

Glasgow Taxis Chairman Dougie McPherson spoke out about the ongoing crisis, saying: "To look at this issue we are well served to take a step back to pre-Covid times. Running into 2020, many Glasgow Taxi business owners had made the required investment to be LEZ compliant - others had held off but were budgeting and intending to do so ahead of the original deadline. Then along came Covid.

"As we all know, Covid more or less halted income, or a reasonable level of income, for operators and drivers for the best part of 18 months. For that primary reason, while Glasgow Taxis is supportive of the Low Emission Zone and all it aims to achieve, we believe a deadline extension closer to a length of time in line with the 18+ months during which we faced serious financial disadvantage would be much fairer than the five month extension currently in place (31 Dec 2022 to 1 June 2023).

"When you combine the looming deadline with an ageing workforce, a lack of sufficient second-hand vehicles available on the market and the level of investment needed, it all adds up to a major problem not only for the trade but for the city. You only need to look as far as Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen for a much more sensible compromise whereby the deadline has been pushed back by around a further year.

"We feel sympathy for those Glasgow Taxi operators who invested early as much as we feel sorry for those whose intention to was completely kyboshed by Covid. It is also important to note that the latest emergency Covid funding is currently being paid out to drivers, yet the same support to operators is not available yet - that's how critical this Low Emission Zone timeline is.

"Operators continue to sit last in that queue for support while being expected to make a significant investment by the end of the year.

"Glasgow Taxis is supportive of the Low Emission Zone but not of the deadline currently applicable to our taxis. We believe it is not unreasonable to ask, due to the hardship Covid has caused, to have that deadline and opportunity to invest extended by a year."


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