Taxi drivers in Stockton are in an ongoing dispute with the council over the allowance of tinted back windows in their vehicles.
Stockton Council taxi rules dictate back passenger panes must allow 70% of light through so customers can be seen from the outside - but with many vehicles surpassing that allowance standard manufacturers glass, taxi drivers are stressing that a forced change would cost them thousands of pounds.
Chairman of the Stockton Hackney Carriage Driver Association (SHCDA), Tahir Ali, has asked for the regulation to be eased as drivers are finding it extremely difficult to find or buy clear replacement windows to meet the council's requirements.
Councillors are now debating whether it is fair to expect drivers to purchase new cleaner vehicles to operate in and then have to have all the windows changed.
According to Teesside Live, members of the council’s licensing committee were told how authority officers had tried in vain to help drivers source less tinted glass from manufacturers.
Council solicitor Jonathan Nertney said: “This is an example where the policy is having a restrictive effect on the trade.
“They are buying a new car which has tinted windows - and we’re saying it can’t be licensed because the tint level doesn’t comply with the policy.
“They have to go away to put windows in to comply and they can’t - it’s having an unjustifiable impact.”
Cllr Norma Stephenson also stressed her concerns over the regulation, saying that if the rule isn't relaxed, Stockton will struggle to have enough licensed taxi drivers.
She said: “For that ratio of light, I think we should let them have it.”
Cllr Evaline Cunningham stated that she wants the council’s taxi policy on rear passenger windows to be made clear.
She said: “I don’t like the idea of young children and vulnerable adults who cannot be seen travelling in the back of a car.”
During the meeting, which took place on Tuesday 27 August, Councillors unanimously agreed to a relaxation of the regulations, but a full council meeting will take place later this year to determine the final decision.
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