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GREEN MEANS GO


BIRMINGHAM CABBIES DEMAND CAZ EXEMPTION AMID FEARS OF £2 PER DAY EARNINGS


Birmingham cabbies could face ‘finan- cial ruin by earning just £2-per-day’ due to the impending Clean Air Zone (CAZ), the taxi union RMT has warned. The Birmingham Mail reports that hackney drivers are now calling on Birmingham City Council for a one-year exemption for cabbies using non- compliant vehicles who will have to fork out £8 a day to enter the city centre when the CAZ becomes opera- tional on 1 June. Licensed cabbies living and working in Birmingham have been offered a £1,000 Covid grant by the council and a £5,000 grant for replacing their vehicle - but scores of drivers do not live in the city.


RMT representative Mozafar Ali told BirminghamLive: “We are for a one- year exemption from the CAZ charge from June 1, 2021 to June 1, 2022, on the grounds that currently it is not financially viable for hackney drivers to pay the CAZ charge. “The average earnings a day range from £20 to £40 - if you take out the fuel, CAZ charge, vehicle wear and tear we will be left with about £2 if we are forced to pay to come into the city. “The city centre will be overloaded with taxis with nowhere to park as there is no adequate rank space, plus the con- stant harassment taxi drivers face from traffic wardens. “So we urgently need Birmingham


council to give an extension for exemp- tion from the CAZ charge. If drivers are forced to pay the CAZ charge the majority of hackney drivers will leave the trade and be forced to go on the unemployment line just to meet their costs. “This will already add extra burden on to the Government finances, not to mention the rise in unemployment. “Also, a lot of drivers are on the brink of financial ruin and are struggling to pay their bills - let alone put food on the table.” Protesters have already been cam- paigning against the Birmingham Clean Air Zone, which they say will turn the city into a ghost town.


BRADFORD TAXI BOSSES HIGHLIGHT COST IMPACT OF CLEAN AIR ZONE


Bosses at a Bradford taxi firm have spoken about the struggles to afford costs associated with the introduction of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in January. According to the Telegraph and Argus, Sahil Iqbal, manager of Dial A Ride Bradford and Shipley Taxis, is also urg- ing Bradford Council to help avert Bradford Taxi Action Group’s (BTAG) plans for a taxi strike on May 13 and 14, which he said could result in the taxi trade “losing a lot of money”. BTAG has also said the full strike action could cause major disruption to Eid celebrations.


Mr Iqbal said: “In my personal opinion, I think that they shouldn’t introduce the CAZ because due to Covid-19 and lock- downs taxi drivers haven’t been able to earn money.


“If it goes ahead this means taxi drivers will have to fork out money for either a car with a Euro 6 engine, hybrid or full electric car and that is a lot of money, but the other option is to pay £12.50


MAY 2021


per day and that is still a lot of money as drivers hardly make any money these days due to Covid-19. “Our drivers haven’t been making enough money. They simply can’t afford the costs associated with intro- ducing a Clean Air Zone. "And the grants offered by the council towards hybrid or electric cars are not enough." Muzakhir Afzal, owner of Dial A Ride and FTB Private Hire, said: “Drivers are not making a suitable amount of money to afford these cars.” Mr Afzal said the cars could cost rough- ly around £15,000 to £18,000. Mr Iqbal added that a Clean Air Zone proposed for Leeds had failed and he said Bradford should follow suit. “Bradford is such a small town and they’re talking that a Clean Air Zone would cover some of the busiest roads in Bradford. I would like to see Bradford Council respond to BTAG’s request by May 4


BTAG, like Mr Iqbal, is concerned about the impact a CAZ would have on taxi drivers. “If this strike goes ahead, we will lose a lot of money,” added Mr Iqbal. A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “The council works well with a number of trade organisations which represent the taxi trade and they com- ply with the rules set out. “The council is under Government directive to introduce a Clean Air Zone and is therefore duty bound to comply. “We are continuing to have conversa- tions with the trade to support drivers to adapt and have already secured higher levels of grants from the Gov- ernment for taxi and private hire drivers than other Clean Air Zone local authorities have received. “We value the district’s taxi drivers as an important part of our public transport service, they have had a very difficult year and we are grateful for all they have done in these challenging times.”


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