Taxi drivers gathered outside Leeds Civic Hall to protest a new policy that could see drivers with points on their licence lose their jobs.
Leeds City Council tried to bring in the ‘six-point policy’ 18 months ago but held back in the face of driver uproar and a large demonstration.
But inside the council building today, the licensing committee gave its backing to an amendment that would give more leeway to drivers with points.
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Rather than an immediate suspension of a driver’s taxi licence once they exceed six points, the amended policy includes a sliding scale of penalties relating to the number of points.
For minor offences, drivers would also be asked to undertake extra training before suspension comes into play.
But protesters are concerned the sliding scale still allows room for harsh suspensions that could affect a driver’s income, even when they may have done nothing wrong.
Ahmed Hussain, Chairman of Leeds Private Hire Driver Organisation, said: “There’s discretion, there’s a fit and proper person test and we want a sub-committee to decide these things.
“The officers are giving us the usage of a service [taxi license] then at the same time they are implementing the punishment.
“If they look at neighbouring councils, Bradford has a sub-committee, it’s not a one-man decision whether a driver’s badge gets revoked.
“In Newcastle they wait until a magistrates court finds a driver guilty or not guilty before his badge is revoked, until then he can work.
“Same with Birmingham, same with Newcastle and Sheffield.”
Labour councillor for Gipton and Harehills, Arif Hussain, who was a taxi driver in Leeds for 30 years, joined the protesters outside Civic Hall.
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He said: “The consultation for the suitability process and also the report that the licensing committee are considering is not correct.
“We’re talking about at least 1,000 drivers who were not emailed in 2019 for the consultation.”
The licensing committee agreed to recommend the amendment to the Executive Board for consideration in September.
Further consultation with drivers and the public in that time.
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