.

Discontent Among Bury Taxi Drivers

Friday, June 7th, 2019 9:13am

By Joseph Tinman - Local Democracy Reporter

Charles Oakes, chairman of the Hackney Drivers\' Association, and Mohammad Sajad, secretary of Bury Private Hire Drivers\' Association, at the Licensing and Safety Panel

Discontent is “bubbling” among taxi drivers in Bury, according to a trade representative.

They claimed that vehicles are unfairly failing tests for cosmetic issues such as scratches which is putting drivers out of work.

Further frustrations were expressed about the need for drivers to travel outside of the borough to be tested.

Mr Oakes told councillors on the licensing and safety panel drivers’ complaints are being ignored.

He said: “There is a backlog of complaints that have not been answered. What’s going on? Because members who are aggrieved in whatever way have a right to be heard.”

Angela Lomax, head of trading standards and licensing, said that many complaints were getting lost because they were not sent to the right people.

She said: “The problem we have got, Mr Oakes, is the various pathways you are sending your complaints. We won’t deliberately ignore you. Unfortunately, we don’t have the staffing level to be sat at the desk and answer phone calls.”

However, Shaf Mahmood, a Bury Private Hire Drivers’ Association representative, said the department was “deliberately” not answering complaints.

He told the panel about an incident on Tuesday in which a vehicle failed its MOT for having tinted windows despite passing the previous year.

Licensing unit manager Michael Bridges said he had already seen a complaint about this incident and would respond in due course.

But the disgruntled drivers told us that testers examine vehicles with a “fine-tooth comb” and fail them “for anything”, resulting in additional charges.

Mohammad Sajad, secretary of Bury Private Hire Drivers’ Association told the panel that having one licensed MOT station in the borough is not enough given the rising number of taxi drivers.

A fire at Bradley Fold station earlier this year means that vehicle testing has been relocated to Bolton for the time being.

Mrs Lomax praised the “marvellous” staff for being up and running within 48 hours at the station which is four miles away.

A total of 50 vehicles are tested every week by the Bradley Fold staff who have to deal with 1,000 drivers throughout the year.

Mr Bridges also claimed that drivers often fail to give the station enough notice before turning up for tests.

He said: “Drivers come in two days before their licence expires. It’s never their fault, it’s always the council’s fault.”

Mr Oakes said that there is “discontent bubbling” throughout the hackney and private hire trade.

He raised concerns about the proposals which could result in taxi drivers who use certain vehicles paying a daily fee for travelling on highly-polluted roads.

New industry standards are also on the horizon affecting all drivers across the region.

He said: “Drivers can’t afford all these things and every bit of money that goes into this. I’ve been complaining about the refusal of the council to allow the trade a second testing station in Bury. The fire at Bradley Fold clearly shows there’s a need for another testing station. Drivers are not going to be happy having to go to Bolton to get their vehicles tested.”

A public consultation on the common minimum standards for taxis and private hire vehicles in Greater Manchester and the Clean Air Plan is expected to take place later this year.

More from Local