London taxi drivers protesting road access dispute “will never communicate with the police again”

A group of taxi drivers in London protesting against planned road closures have stated they “will never communicate with the police again”.

A few hundred cabbies led by social media ‘pressure group’, Independent Taxi Alliance (ITA), took to the streets yesterday to continue their protest against new road access restrictions being implemented in Wapping and Tottenham Court Road.

The protest, which started in Parliament Square, soon moved on to multiple other locations including Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square.

The decision to move from Parliament Square comes following an allegation from ITA that police officials “have broken all agreements”.

Since Spring 2019, a few hundred London taxi drivers have attended the weekly protest at Parliament Square, calling for local authorities to listen to concerns over road access in the capital. The ITA say that they aim to “raise awareness about policies that coerce, discriminate or do not reflect public opinion”.

The cabbies' concerns centre on the new Wapping Bus Gate, which has restricted access on weekdays from 5.30am to 10.30am and from 4pm to 7pm on Wapping High Street between the junctions of Sampson Street and Knighten Street.

The Bus Gate does not include exemptions for residents or taxis, as it was determined that to do so would undermine the overall aims of the bus gate.

This is despite the majority of respondents voting to keep access open for residents and taxis in a Tower Hamlet’s Council led consultation.

Cab drivers are arguing that the restricted access is increasing journey times and pushing up prices for disabled and wheelchair users. London’s licensed taxis provide the only 100% wheelchair accessible service in the capital.

Central London’s busy Tottenham Court Road is set to block access to taxi drivers in Spring 2020. Some areas of the southbound lane on Tottenham Court Road will open to traffic and there will be sections of both the north and southbound lanes restricted to buses and cyclists only between 8am and 7pm Monday to Saturday.

TaxiPoint has approached both the ITA and the Metropolitan Police to comment further.

The protests are set to continue next week.

Image credit: Tom Scullion

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