'It will continue until they listen to us': Leeds taxi drivers continue city-wide strike over Leeds Council regulations

A Leeds taxi driver has spoken out about the lack of consistency in Leeds City Council's high standards for local drivers as strike action continues.

By Alex Grant
Monday, 17th January 2022, 4:50 pm

Current rules stipulate that Leeds based drivers must abide by all safety regulations while cars coming in from elsewhere do not.

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This is part of the ongoing cross border work that allow taxi drivers to travel in from areas like Bradford to work.

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LPHDO have called for the protest against the council's Suitability and Convictions policy with many feeling that their views are falling on death ears. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

John, a 28-year-old veteran of the city's taxi trade, told the YEP how the lack of consistency in standards just makes no sense.

"In Leeds there is a much higher standard both cars, driver, knowledge of the area and I agree with it but in areas like Bradford it is a lot easier to get a badge." he explained.

"Bradford cars can come into Leeds and work in cars that can be up to 15-years-old but for local drivers Leeds council only allow cars of up to 7-years due to public safety."

Confusion over such contradictory standards is just one of many reasons which has seen taxi drivers across the city take strike action.

There is confusion among drivers for what they feel as inconsistencies with drivers coming in from outside the area not being held to the same standard. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation (LPHDO) have called for the protest against the council's Suitability and Convictions policy with many feeling that their views are falling on death ears.

For John he feels the UK wide taxi driver standard is needed to ensure all drivers are held to the same high standard in the name of public safety.

"There's no national standard for taxi drivers, all district council's have different standards so we are seeing cars coming that are a lot older." John said. "They are not up to our standard, I have to have a basic knowledge test to work in Leeds but those coming in do not."

The strike action is furthered by convictions rulings that can see drivers flat out banned without follow up or corroboration if a customer complains.

Speaking prior to today's strike action LPHDO Vice Chairman Zahir Mahmood expressed his feeling that cab drivers are taken for granted.

"The problem in Leeds is the council and the regulator can get away with anything while the taxi driver can't get away with even a minor thing." he said. "If I have an argument on the road with someone and they make a complaint against me then I get suspended straight away without any follow up."

In a statement provided to the YEP Coun Debra Coupar said:

“We have been made aware of the proposed strike action on Monday by the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation (LPHDO). Our priority is to minimise the impact of this proposed action especially on vulnerable adults and children as much as we can, and to make sure everyone who may be affected is aware of the situation and any potential disruption, with solutions being identified where possible.

“We would ask the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation to reconsider their planned action, and continue their dialogue with us over the proposed accumulation of minor motoring convictions criterion of the suitability policy in order to achieve a positive outcome for all parties.”

Drivers for LPHDO gathered at Burley Road car park to protest and have vowed that action will continue until their concerns are heard.

"It will continue until they sit down and actually listen to us." Zahir said "We have been in dialogue and are starting to sound like a broken record now. Three years later and unfortunately nothing's been done. This council has let us down."

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