Cardiff Taxi Drivers – Getting their Voice Heard
A recently formed taxi trade body in Cardiff has achieved notable success in representing the views of local taxi drivers in a short space of time. Since being established just over a year ago Taxi Drivers of Cardiff (TDC) has gained over 250 members and has made their collective voice heard on a number of important issues at both a local and national level. Could they provide a template for others to follow?
The powers governing Taxi and Private Hire Licensing were devolved as part of the Wales Bill 2017 and the desire to bring about legislative change is a top priority the organisation. TDC have so far met numerous Assembly Members to discuss the state of legislation as it stands, and felt that they were very receptive to the views of drivers.
Who are Taxi Drivers of Cardiff?
Taxi Drivers of Cardiff was created in October 2016, when a group of approximately 50 drivers met in response to the treatment of drivers by one particular Private Hire company. The group has evolved since then to encompass drivers from all companies in Cardiff.
The group is run in its entirety by committee, there is no chair as such. Members of the Steering Committee include Paul Paul O'Hara, Sean Worrell, Max Whittingham and Keith Shackell. There are close ties with the GMB as all members of the Steering Committee, along with many TDC members, are also GMB members. Paul O'Hara is also the Welsh Regions representative on the National Organising Committee for Professional and Taxi Drivers.
Since the very beginning, TDC has also had a helping hand from Stephen Doughty, Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth. Co-founder and Spokesman Paul O'Hara said,
“Since we formed, we've garnered a very strong relationship with Stephen Doughty. He's also a vice chair on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis and Private Hire in Parliament and he's been an immense help to us. He's even named Taxi Drivers of Cardiff in various speeches he's made in Parliament.”
"He has taken a very keen interest in the trade both locally and nationally. He was vice chair on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis in Parliament and he really has been a great help and continues to be so. He has helped enormously with the company that drivers originally met to put pressure on. We'd like to publicly thank Stephen for all he has done and all he continues to do for the trade both in Cardiff and nationally."
Why was Taxi Drivers of Cardiff created?
The founders of TDC felt that Cardiff had never had a truly inclusive trade organisation. Every driver in Cardiff is dual-badged, each has to go through exactly the same tests whether they want to drive a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire vehicle. For the organisation to have any credibility it was thought that membership should be open to both public and private hire drivers. "After all, a Hack driver could, next week, be driving a PH vehicle and vice versa", said Paul O'Hara.
It would be incredibly hard for drivers to get an audience with governing bodies and regulators, or to get their voice heard without a well organised and professionally run trade organisation. TDC will be able to raise, lobby, and propose solutions on issues such as cross-border hiring, drivers rights or competition between operators.
“It’s been a challenge trying to gain agreement from all the members. As always, people will have differing opinions but I think we’ve benefited from the fact that everyone knows we’re volunteering and trying to do our best for the trade. Drivers in the Cardiff area have had it hard in recent times due to cross-border hiring and unfair competition. So tackling those concerns has been our main focus.”
Taxi Drivers of Cardiff's Greatest Success so far
Since they started, they feel that the relationship between company owners and drivers has improved:
- With the help of Stephen Doughty MP, numerous meetings with the most senior of management were held
- The original issues (a 24 hour stop if drivers reject a job) has gone down to 1 hour. And they're still fighting for that to be scrapped.
- Equipment insurance that wasn't fit for purpose was removed.
- They have taken on board suggestions made by TDC and changed the way they operate for the benefit of drivers.
- They are about to form a drivers panel to improve the relationship between drivers and management further, which is what everyone wanted in the first place.
TDC has also had meetings with senior management of the local licensing department, with Cardiff County Council leader and members of his cabinet, the South Wales Police and senior policy advisors at the Welsh Government.
The Taxi Drivers of Cardiff have also appeared, alongside the GMB, at the "New Powers, New Possibilities" inquiry at the Senedd (Welsh Assembly Government building) to provide the drivers’ viewpoint on legislation (taxi segment starts at 2:10:00).
The TDC's Main Ambitions
The Taxi Drivers of Cardiff are busy lobbying various Welsh Assembly members, having already sent everyone a detailed paper briefing them on the current state of Taxi and Private Hire Licensing legislation. Their main ambitions are to:
- Gain cross-party support in the Senedd Chamber and push through the reforms they believe the taxi trade desperately need.
- Garner a close relationship with all relevant bodies when it comes to the taxi trade.
- Get official recognition from Cardiff County Council, hopefully within 2 months.
- Gain strength by recruiting more members.
How to Join Taxi Drivers of Cardiff?
TDC does not charge any membership fee. Any driver in the Cardiff area that is interested in joining Taxi Drivers of Cardiff can get in touch with them via their Twitter handle @CardiffDrivers and/or their Facebook group. To become a member, they can also simply send in a photo of their Cardiff Taxi badge to firstname.lastname@example.org.