£3,000 grants for Leeds taxi drivers

Taxi drivers could be handed a cash boost to upgrade their vehicles.
Taxi drivers could be handed a cash boost to upgrade their vehicles.

Proposals to give taxi drivers grants of up to £3,000 each will be discussed at a Leeds City Council meeting next week.

“Transition grants” would be available to assist taxi drivers in buying cleaner vehicles, to conform with clean air regulations set to come into effect in 2020.

Under the proposals, taxi and private hire drivers would be able to apply for a grant of up to £1,500 to go towards buying a hybrid (electric and petrol) car and up to £3,000 to purchase a full electric vehicle.

The proposed clean air charging zone (CAZ) in and around Leeds city centre would charge high polluting taxis and private hire vehicles up to £12.50 a day, while non-eco-friendly HGVs and buses would pay £50 a week for coming into the zone.

Private hire and taxi industry chiefs had complained that most drivers owned their own cars, so would not be able to afford to buy expensive new vehicles, and warned many drivers would simply pay the fees, and have to charge passengers more.

Leeds’s clean air charging zone is part of a £40m raft of work to improve the city’s air quality, following a ruling from the European Union.

The report, which is set to go before the council’s licensing committee on November 5, said: “The grant is based on estimated driver costs such as; driver licensing fees, including DVLA and DBS checks, vehicle licensing costs and other cost such as stickers, meter checks and fitting and service/insurance costs. This grant is designed to lower the effect of these costs and to support the move from older, higher emission vehicle ownership to licensing of ultra-low emission vehicles.”

The council would also offer interest-free loans of up to £10,000 to drivers wishing to replace their cars. This would be repayable over 4 years and can work alongside the transition grants.

The report concluded: “The proposed clean air charging zone achieves compliance in the shortest possible time whilst complying with its legal and statutory obligations and in accordance with public law principles. It has also sought to mitigate the economic impact on the city.

“The support packages described in this paper will assist drivers in making the

required transition to meet the requirements of the forthcoming CAZ.”

Other plans for the clean air charging zone include a network of cameras to detect the number plates entering the charging zone. A number plate would be checked against a database, and could result in the vehicle’s owner being billed for driving in the zone if it does not match the clean air regulations.

However, private vehicles would be exempt from the charges.