A storm is brewing according to a trade representative in Bury after angry taxi and private hire drivers accused councillors in the region of ignoring complaints regarding vehicle testing stations.
Chairman of the Hackney Drivers Association, Charles Oakes, along with four private hire drivers, attending a meeting at Bury Town Hall, gave council staff a dressing down last night.
Anger has risen over claims that vehicles are unfairly failing their inspections due to minor cosmetic issues such as scratches, which as a result is creating hardship for drivers by putting them out of work.
Criticism was also aimed at town hall staff because drivers were forced to travel outside of the borough to have their vehicles tested.
Another issue raised by Mr Oakes, who was addressing councillors on the licensing and safety panel, was the claim that driver complaints are being ignored and that there is a backlog of unanswered complaints.
Mr Oakes asked the panel what was going on regarding the matter.
Head of trading standards and licensing, Angela Lomax, claimed that complaints were getting lost because they were not sent to the right individuals, she also claimed that staffing levels aren't adequate enough to deal with the level of enquiries regarding the issue.
Bury Private Hire Drivers' Association representative, Shaf Mahmood claimed that the department in question were deliberately ignoring complaints about the current situation.
One of the examples Mr Mahmood put forward to the panel was that of a vehicle which failed its MOT for having tinted windows despite passing the previous year, however licensing unit manager Michael Bridges claimed that he had sight of a complaint regarding the matter and would respond in due course.
It was reported in the Manchester Evening News that angry drivers believe that examiners are going over their cabs with a fine tooth comb with a view to failing the vehicles so as to bring in additional revenue.
Other points which were raised included the pressure being put upon the only licensed MOT station in the borough in relation to the increase in numbers of cabbies in the area.
Mr Bridges fired back claiming that drivers often fail to give the testing station enough notice before turning up for a test, stating that drivers come in two days before their licence expires. The panel member went on to say that it’s never the driver's fault, it’s always the council’s fault.
Mr Oakes also raised concerns about proposals which could see cabbies who use certain vehicles paying a daily fee for travelling on highly-polluted roads, as well as proposed new industry standards which could hit cabbies hard.
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Image Author: David Ingham