General secretary of the LTDA, Steve McNamara believes claims of the new congestion charges for PH drivers being “discriminatory” are far-fetched and untrue.
As of this month, Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) will no longer be exempt from paying the weekday congestion charge for driving in Central London.
The decision which was announced back in December 2018, has been met with hostility from stakeholders in the Private Hire Industry, with London Bridge protests held by minicab drivers last month and an emergency meeting called by the London Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA).
It is believed that legal action will be taken against London mayor Sadiq Khan by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, on the basis that the congestion charge breaches the human rights of a primarily BAME workforce.
Yaseen Aslam, secretary of the IWGB’s private hire drivers branch said:
“I didn’t imagine that I would be forced to take legal action against mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for introducing a policy that discriminates against our community. We hope the mayor sees sense and scraps this policy that promises to push thousands of drivers into deeper poverty.”
McNamara argues however that drivers are “Grasping at straws” and have spun a decision based on congestion figures and private hire number statistics, into a race debate.
In what he describes as two trades that originally “bumped along” together since the 1960s, he blames big app operators with “big budgets” as the main cause of the soaring number of minicabs over the last decade, which he labels as the core reason for increased congestion and pollution.
“Our trade has bumped along with the local minicab operators and trade in London since the 1960s… Then all this changed with the arrival of the big app operators with big budgets and an even bigger attitude.”
“With this came a massive explosion in the number of minicabs and with it the massive problems of increased congestion and pollution.”
While Steve McNamara understands the reasoning behind the congestion charging for PHVs, he shares a level of sympathy for PH drivers, citing that with the congestion charge running alongside the ULEZ charge, it’s “not a shock to learn that the minicab trade is up in arms.”
Nevertheless, McNamara believes that the race argument is a flawed debate, and minicab drivers fail to acknowledge that TfL’s regulations also impact the black cab industry, in regards to all black cabs having to be wheelchair accessible and fare prices being regulated.
“They (Private Hire Drivers) fail to mention that 100% of taxis are wheelchair accessible, the mayor sets our fares and makes us drive a £65,000 vehicle and that we are “compellable” so that if asked to take a passenger into the congestion charge area we must comply. Minicab drivers do not have to accept any hiring.”
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