Sunday 16 June 2024
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Nottingham

Nottingham city taxi drivers stripped of licences appeal council decision in court

Nottingham City Council has more than 200 vacant licences as drivers have refused to move over to the new vehicles or left the trade to take up private hire work instead.

Hackney taxi drivers stripped of their licences for not moving over to expensive low-emission vehicles are appealing the council’s decision in court.

The Labour-run authority wanted around 400 of its fleet to be upgraded to low emission vehicles by the end of June 2020.

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So far, 177 drivers have ‘compliant’ vehicles.

Drivers had to take out loans to buy the new cars, which can cost between £36,000 to £60,000, a sum which one driver described as being like “a second mortgage”.

The council says it is part of its plan to improve air quality in the city.

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At a meeting due to be held next week, the council said due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a number of drivers not wishing to move over to new vehicles, “a large number of hackney carriage licences” have been surrendered or not renewed or may otherwise become available.

The local authority says hackney drivers have been aware of the proposed changes since 2017/18 and have had over 18 months since the policy became effective to make arranagements to purchase the compliant vehicles.

Now, it says it is giving  previous holders of hackney driver licences an extension due to Covid-19 and a downturn in business.

They are being given until the end of September and then a further three months to either licence a compliant vehicle or confirm that they have ordered one.

Some drivers have asked for longer to buy the vehicles, April 2022, and want more time to get their finances in order.

The council says it is not in a position to offer loans but is offering up to £3,464 of financial support including contributions to vehicle licence fees and MOT.

From August 2021 – 177 vehicles are complaint with the council’s policy, but 50 drivers have informed the local authority that they did not wish to renew their licences and obtain the new vehicles.

The council says reasons include moving to private hire work or retiring.

Thirty-three vehicles have been refused a licence as they are not complaint vehicles and drivers have appealed against the decision to the Magistrates Court. The outcome of these appeals is still pending.

Also, 160 licences have either expired or were refused (and have no appeal outstanding) with no application for a policy compliant vehicle having been made.

The council says: “The council currently limits the number of Hackney Carriage Vehicle licences it will issue to 420.

“The change in vehicle specification coupled with a loss of trade due to the impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic has meant that for the first time in many years the council has a (potentially large) number of licences that it could issue before it reaches that number.

“This potentially means that the council will have 243 licences which it could issue before reaching the limit of 420 licences.”

The council says it will need to look at reallocated licences to ensure there is enough provision as “more people are coming back into the city.”

The low number of licences is also causing a loss of income for the council.

The allocation policy and findings of the report are set to be discussed at the council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee on Monday, September 6.

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