Former Sheffield City councillor, now GMB union rep, Ibrar Hussain, stressed during a council meeting that taxi drivers are surrendering their badges because the new Clean Air Zone is pricing them out the trade.
Representing the city's taxi drivers, he highlighted the cost of the new electric black cab, one of the vehicles which drivers would be expected to purchase at a cost of around £58,000, if they were to comply with the new CAZ.
He presented a petition with 178 signatures from taxi drivers worried about plans for a Clean Air Zone around the city centre and said almost 80 per cent of taxi drivers took part in a recent consultation on the plans.
Mr Hussain said: “I set up this petition online in the last few days and what a fantastic response from the taxi trade.
“The biggest concern is Euro 6 vehicles. The trade is 3,000 drivers – 1,900 private hire and 857 black cabs but 100-plus have surrendered their licence because they can’t afford to buy new vehicles or continue.
“If Euro 6 diesel vehicles are not allowed, the black cab trade will be decimated because the new electric vehicles are £58,000 onwards. Private hire will also be very badly affected.”
The zone, around the ring road and inner ring road, would see a charge of £50 a day for buses and £10 a day for taxis, lorries, vans and coaches.
Mr Hussain added: “This petition is asking the scrutiny board to look at the detail and breakdown of the responses and, as a trade, we want to put our representation and ideas before a submission is made to the government in December.
“We need to work together in true partnership because this is about people’s livelihoods not politics. Lessons need to be learned from other zones in other cities which are allowing Euro 6 vehicles.
“This has to be phased in, has to be worked on together and has to be done in a true partnership.
“With the shenanigans in Westminster we don’t even know if the zone will go ahead because it’s a proposal so let’s not have a knee jerk reaction but a collective decision making that will result in us pulling together so decisions that affect people are done properly.”
Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for transport, said there had been an amazing response to the consultation.
“This is the end of the official consultation but I have a commitment to continue to meet with the taxi trade and small businesses affected with vans. I have a continued commitment to work with them up to our submission.
“We want to reduce pollution rather than just collect fines. If we collected nothing from the zone I would consider that a success. It’s not about taxing people it’s about tackling the vehicles creating the most pollution.”
Image: Source; Geograph
Image: Author; JThomas