Updated: Aug 24, 2020
GMB Union is calling for clarity from Leeds City Council over the potential cancelling of the Leeds Clean Air Zone Scheme as taxi drivers are left in thousands of pounds of debt
The Union for Private Hire and Hackney Carriage drivers in the city, says its members are becoming increasingly angry and concerned over the handling of the Clean Air Zone Scheme.
GMB was contacted this week by Leeds City Council and informed that the Clean Air Zone Scheme is now suspended and is at risk of being shelved. Air pollution in the city has been reduced due to the coronavirus lockdown and less vehicles being on the road.
If air pollution levels stay below the legal limit, the Clean Air Zone Scheme will receive no
further support from government and will be scrapped.
As a consequence of the proposed scheme, taxi drivers in the city have been forced into spending up to £70,000 for new vehicles in order to comply with the rules. This has meant many of the drivers have been forced into debt in order to be able to continue to work, only to be told that the scheme may now be scrapped altogether.
GMB has consistently asked for the rules around cars to be less strict to enable drivers more time to be able to fund upgraded vehicles and enable drivers to have longer to plan how they will fund their new cars. This was rejected by the council, so drivers have had no choice but to purchase expensive Hybrid cars and get into unnecessary debt.
GMB Organiser, Andrew Aldwinkle, who represents GMB members in the trade said: “GMB Union fully supports the need for cleaner air for the citizens of Leeds, but the debacle around the Clean Air Zone Scheme in Leeds is becoming embarrassing.
“GMB members have done everything they have been asked to do and have been forced into debt to do it. To be now told that the scheme has been suspended and Is under review is a slap in the face for our members and all drivers across the city, that have piled up debt which may now have been completely unnecessary.
“GMB is requesting an urgent meeting with Cllr Lewis in order to discuss a way forward.
“GMB will also be looking at any legal ramifications should the scheme be scrapped altogether. I encourage the council to meet with us at the earliest opportunity.”