Police have warned private hire drivers that they must not start their protest until 10am on Monday in Leeds city centre - and must drive in single file - due to the disruption the demonstration would cause.
Private hire drivers announced today that they plan to protest from 6am on Monday (January 8) from 6am to midday.
But West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Council have this afternoon announced a set of 'conditions' which the protesters must meet.
The drivers will not be allowed to begin gathering until 9.30am at the earliest, and the procession cannot start until 10am. The procession must be single file, and must not involve more than 100 vehicles.
The conditions are aimed at reducing what Leeds Council says is 'unnecessary' disruption during the Monday morning rush hour.
A spokesman for the council said: "Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police have been notified of a planned "go slow" protest by some private hire drivers in Leeds on Monday 8 January between the hours of 6 am and 12 noon.
"However conditions have been put in place by West Yorkshire Police to restrict the time and scale of the protest to help reduce the disruption to motorists and public transport although some disruption to traffic in parts of the city centre may still occur.
"The conditions restrict the hours of the protest to 10 am and 12 noon to avoid the busy morning rush-hour, limits the number of cars allowed to take part to 100 and requires the drivers taking part to drive in single file so as not to block the carriageway."
Councillor James Lewis, deputy leader said: “This is the third protest by the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation in the space of a month, causing unnecessary disruption to motorists and public transport across the city centre. We are very disappointed that they have decided to go ahead with further disruptive action, despite talks being ongoing between ourselves and their representatives and a number concessions already agreed.
“Officers and senior Councillors have spent a significant amount of time meeting with this organisation over the past two months, trying to address their concerns in a way which does not have a detrimental impact on public safety and other road users. We felt that discussions had been productive and conciliatory, and there are still some meetings in the pipeline. Therefore we feel that further action at this stage is unnecessary and unhelpful.
“The licensing committee has also agreed to take a proposal its meeting on Tuesday so the policy about livery on private hire vehicles can be reviewed and consulted upon as soon as possible.
“We have very real concerns about the impact on public safety as well as the safety of the drivers themselves that this further protest may bring, as I’m sure members of the public are already finding the regular disruption very frustrating.”
THE POLICE CONDITIONS IN FULL
West Yorkshire Police have issued a S12 notice under Public Order Act 1986 with the following conditions imposed on the protest:
1. Muster – Protestors will muster at Leeds and Bradford Road, Leeds from 0930 hours (9:30am).
2. Timing of the procession (from muster point) – The procession will start no earlier than 10:00 hours (10:00am). Each driver of each vehicle in the procession will drive in accordance with road and traffic conditions, and Road Traffic legislation. The procession will conclude no later than 12:00 hours (12pm).
3.Route – From muster point, procession to proceed along Leeds and Bradford Road, turn right onto A65 Kirkstall Road, proceed onto Wellington Street, turn left on to King Street and continue onto East Parade, onto Calverley Street, right onto Great George Street, ahead onto Merrion Street, left onto North Street, right onto New York Road, right onto Regent Street / St Peters Street, onto Kirkgate, left onto High Court, onto The Calls, right onto Swinegate, Bishopgate Street, Quebec Street, right onto East Parade, as directed by the bronze commander.
4. Movement of protestors – The procession will be in a single line of vehicles along the prescribed route.
5. Number of vehicles – A maximum number of 100 vehicles (not including police vehicles) will take part in the Procession. The Bronze Commander, having regard to the input of the organiser, will determine who shall be included in such number.
WHAT THE TAXI DRIVERS ARE PROTESTING ABOUT
LPHDO have raised the following issues with Leeds City Council:
Use of bus lanes/stops by Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs);
Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued for waiting/picking up/dropping off in bus stops;
Attacks on drivers in certain areas of the city;
Livery (stickers) on PHVs.
The following summarises the council’s current position on each of the above issues.
Use of bus lanes by Private Hire Vehicles:
"The council, working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and partners, is aiming to double bus patronage within 10 years and have received £174m from the Government to improve public transport in Leeds.
"In Leeds and across West Yorkshire, hackney carriages are allowed to use bus lanes but not private hire vehicles because of the large number of vehicles involved and the consequent adverse impact on bus services.
"The council also regularly gets requests from other groups who would like permission to use bus lanes e.g. motorcyclists, low emission vehicles, etc. therefore is unable to extend this permission to PHV drivers without also offering the same permission to other groups, thus making the adverse impact on bus services even greater."
Penalty Charge Notices (fines) issued for waiting/picking up/dropping off in bus stops:
"The restriction of no drivers being allowed to stop at city centre bus stops at any time has been in place for some time."
After meeting a representative from the private hire trade, the council has been trialling the following parking enforcement concessions:
"The ‘no parking in bus stops’ regulation will not be enforced after 23.30 (when buses stop running). With exceptions on Albion Street (both sides) and near to McDonalds on Boar Lane (also both sides).
"Allowing drop off and pick up provided there is proof of a fare at that location and there has been no waiting. (Waiting on Boar Lane for a pick up at the railway station or anywhere else is not permitted). Proof of fare for exact time of offence must be provided to ensure drivers are not waiting for lengthy periods in bus stops, illegally plying for hire, therefore the council is unable to relax this condition.
Where drivers have received multiple tickets for parking in bus stops we will waive all but one payment for PCNs issued in the period 1st September – 3rd November. Drivers can appeal PCNs received and we will consider any specific factors as part of an individual appeal."
Attacks on drivers:
"PHV drivers are encouraged to report all offences committed against them as promptly as possible through 101 / 999.
The policing response to the attacks on drivers and their vehicles is being coordinated by Leeds Anti-social Behaviour Team from the Safer Leeds Partnership. In addition to increased patrols, by local officers in known locations of concern, opportunities surrounding prevention and education are being explored."
Livery (stickers) on Private Hire Vehicles:
"All Private Hire vehicles must carry recognisable livery to ensure that members of the public can easily identify them as a legitimate private hire vehicle and not a bogus, unlicensed and uninsured vehicle which is illegally plying for hire. The livery also ensures that the public can differentiate between vehicles licenced here in Leeds or elsewhere in the country.
The council’s licensing committee have also recently commissioned a full review of all taxi and private hire policies and are currently forming working groups to look at each policy inviting comments from the trade, public, police and other interested parties."