Leeds cabbies' crisis talks over suspension

Taxi drivers in Leeds are meeting council and licensing chiefs amid mounting frustration following the suspension of the head of the department.

Des Broster was suspended last September and a Leeds City Council investigation remains ongoing five months later.

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Members of the Hackney carriage trade who, along with private hire drivers, provide the city's cab services are due to meet council leader Richard Brett and other influential figures tomorrow to discuss their concerns.

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Leeds has more than 5,500 licensed vehicles, of which around 1,000 are Hackney carriage.

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Paul Landau, chairman of the Unite Leeds union, which looks after Hackney carriage drivers in the city, said uncertainty was fast

becoming "frustrating" and "infuriating" for many drivers.

"There are so may issues and we are just trying to bring some common sense back," he said.

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"We are just getting a bit disgruntled because nobody seems to want to take the rein at vehicle licensing while the gentleman is suspended.

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"We want a firm and resolute answer: Is he coming back? We want to know what is happening."

He said a recent survey issued to Hackney carriage drivers regarding

the ongoing issue of the city centre, numbers of ranks and vehicles had caused anger because it was also sent to private hire drivers.

He said illegal plying of trade by some private hire drivers also remained an issue and any action by the authorities seemed to have "fallen by the wayside" during the time of Mr Broster's suspension.

The GMB Private Hire Association, the private hire drivers' union, declined to comment on tomorrow's meeting and is thought to be awaiting the conclusion of the council's investigation.

Frustration in Leeds's taxi community has been mounting in the past


Before the suspension, the licensing department had faced increasing criticism over new rule changes. Concerns over taxi contracts for private hire companies and unpopular new lower vehicle age limits had also been raised.

Mr Broster had also presided over tough new rules for cabbies, including introducing new knowledge tests and an NVQ qualification.

A Leeds City Council spokesman confirmed Mr Broster remained under suspension and the investigation was ongoing.

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