Taxi drivers across Bury, Bolton and Oldham are preparing to protest the controversial new Clean Air Zones.

On Monday, January 10 from 1.30pm to 4pm taxi drivers, unionists and taxi service managers will gather outside Bolton Town Hall, Le Mans Crescent, to protest the Clean Air initiative, designed to limit pollution on the transport network.

Bosses of Manchester's taxi firms have called for financial support as new licensing laws mean they may have to buy new cars that they cannot afford.

New rules could into play later this month that could mean taxi firms must buy cars no older than five years old which will apply from March 2023 if agreed to.

Adil Sharif, Chairman of the Bury Union of Taxi Drivers, said: ""We have all been deeply concerned about this idea for a long time since Andy Burnham first proposed it a couple of years back.

"There is no funding available, we need grants and the £2,500 that the government has said will be available is not enough.

"Over the course of the pandemic, car prices have gone up and to get a good new car could cost us up to £20,000.

"Even if we use the £2,000 grants offered, we will still have to take out huge loans to be able to afford a car.

"So we will just be working ourselves sick instead of working to put food on the table for our families."

He added: "It feels like the government wants to kill this incredibly important service that we give to the public.

"At this time, everyone is struggling financially and taxi drivers are no exception, so I don't know how they expect us to shoulder these costs on our own."

If the proposed Clean Air Zones go ahead, daily fines will apply to vehicles that do not comply to government standards.

Kirsty Wild, Manager of Magnum Whiteline Taxis in Whitefield said: "We can get on board with the Clean Air Zone because in many ways it's not a bad idea, but's making things really heard for our drivers.

"We are already short of staff and cars, so we cannot keep up with these costs unless we increase our fares dramatically.

"But, our customer base is largely made up of people who can't afford their own cars so we cannot expect them to pay these prices.

"Our drivers are having to do so many extra hours to make up for the lack of resources and in some cases have made less than minimum wage.

"Of course some drivers make good money but in many cases they have had to leave and get other jobs, and if this goes ahead it will only push more drivers out into other lines of work."

President of the Bolton Private Hire Association, Mahmood Akhtar, added: "Our drivers have seen their income drop over the last year, but have still been putting in the hours, transporting doctors and emergency medical staff.

"So in a sense, we have acted as another emergency service, but to be treated like this is unacceptable.

"We want Andy Burnham and the leaders of greater Manchester to understand the impact that this will have on taxi drivers, their families and the indirect consequences on the wider community."