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Bury black-cab drivers may protest at Christmas
2:41pm Friday 29th November 2013 in News
BLACK-CAB drivers could protest over the festive period if crisis talks between Bury Council and drivers’ representatives fail.
That is the stark warning from Charles Oakes, chairman of The Hackney Drivers Association Ltd, who claims relations with Town Hall bosses on vehicle issues have turned sour.
Mr Oakes, who represents 105 black-cab drivers in the borough, wants the council’s licensing committee to consider changing the controversial five-point rule.
The rule states that vehicles aged six years or over cannot be used as taxis if they fail more than five elements on their MoT.
Mr Oakes claims it is unfair because the same rules are not applied to private hire vehicles and one in 10 of those are the same make and model as black cabs Mr Oakes said: “These private hire vehicles could get to eight or nine years and still be used even if they need lots of repairs, whereas a vehicle that is exactly the same make and model that happens to be a black cab could be much younger and in much better shape and fail. Where is the sense?”
However, Bury Council bosses maintain that the current rules are steadfast and keep taxi passengers safe.
Mr Oakes said he has referred the issue to the Local Government Ombudsman in the hope of breaking the stalemate.
He is meeting with local authority leaders next Tuesday and says that, if there is not significant progress towards exploring an alternative to the five-fault rule, his drivers will protest.
“It could be a go-slow protest drive through the town centre, or it could be a significant withdrawal of services over the Christmas period. We are considering all options,” said Mr Oakes.
He added: “We’ve threatened action for so long but never followed through. Now could be the time.”
The licensing committee chairman, Cllr David Jones, said: “We do want to help drivers where it is reasonable.
“In June this year, the five-fault rule was amended to make passing the test more achievable in respect of bodywork and paintwork damage.
“The first priority of us as a licensing authority is that taxi customers travel in safety and comfort.”
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