CABBIES in Leeds fear sweeping changes brought in by a national deregulation of their trade will affect the most vulnerable customers.
A coachload of campaigners from Leeds protesting against changes to historic laws of the taxi trade are set to travel to London to lobby parliament on April 30.
They are backing a national campaign titled ‘No submission to the law commission’ and have support from disability campaigners in Leeds, who fear plans could mean many disabled people will lose out on their main form of transport.
Paul Landau, who chairs the Leeds Hackney Carriage branch of union Unite, said: “These sweeping changes will mean the most vulnerable people in our society are affected. Many people rely on using a hackney carriage as their primary method of transport. We are concerned because of the impact this will have on disabled users, vulnerable groups and customers overall. We do not feel the huge impact changes will have on people’s lives has been fully considered. Changes are being rushed through.”
The Government is currently considering scrapping Section 16 of the Transport Act 1985 – which allows councils to limit the number of hackney carriages in their local authority area based on supply and demand – as part of a review of ancient taxi laws.
It could also see a blurring of the lines between the hackney and private hire trades, and a relaxing of cross-city working which drivers fear could “destroy” trade on both sides.
Mr Landau added that as well as congestion and public safety issues, another problem arising from deregulation could be cross-border hiring and baton passing of private hire jobs.
Tim McSharry, of the Access Committee for Leeds, said: “We are supporting the lobby of parliament and hope people’s needs are taken into account. Many taxi drivers end up providing social care as they provide help for those who need it.”