The long running taxi dispute between Coventry and Wolverhampton has sparked back to life, after a drivers protest led to a war of words between the two councils.
Last week, a number of black cab drivers from Coventry protested outside Wolverhampton Civic Centre, claiming that licenses handed out by the Black Country council are damaging local trade.
And while council bosses at Wolverhampton have attempted to downplay the nature of the protest, a senior council figure at Coventry City Council has fired back.
Around 50 black cab drivers from Coventry travelled over to Wolverhampton last Wednesday, where they were joined by fellow drivers from across the Midlands.
The common issue that these drivers have surrounds the taxi licenses being handed out by City of Wolverhampton Council to drivers who are going on to operate out of neighbouring cities - such as Coventry.
Indeed, operating on Wolverhampton licenses is the loophole used by Uber drivers in Coventry - as the council here has not granted Uber a license to trade in Coventry.
And Coventry's black cab drivers believe that it is their wallets that are being hit by this, as Wolverhampton licensed drivers are taking fares in Coventry.
In October, CoventryLive revealed that City of Wolverhampton Council license 241 taxi drivers with Coventry addresses - and it was acknowledged that it is in this area that these drivers actually operate.
Following the protest, Cllr Alan Bolshaw, City of Wolverhampton Council Chair of Licensing said: “A small number of Hackney Carriage drivers from Coventry arrived in Wulfruna Street to protest about increased competition from the private hire trade.
"Coventry Hackney Carriage fares have recently been identified as the most expensive in the country. This small protest was about protectionism and self-interest, and passed off without incident.”
In response to this, Cllr Jayne Innes, Cabinet Member for City Services at Coventry City Council, has hit back, saying: "Private Hire Monthly's analysis shows Coventry Black Cabs are 84th in the country in terms of pricing - far from being the most expensive, we are roughly average for taxi fares.
"There are about 850 Black Cabs licensed to operate in Coventry. Just over 50 took part in the protest in Wolverhampton. This is clearly not a small number, and it is important to understand that those taking part in the protest chose to lose many working hours in order to do so.
"Cllr Bolshaw's allegation of 'protectionism' is both insulting and ludicrous. However I am pleased to confirm I, as Cabinet Member who oversees policy on taxis in Coventry, will continue to support Coventry's safe and professional Black Cab trade.
"Our Black Cabs are licensed to a far higher standard than cabs from Wolverhampton. In particular, we require our drivers to undergo Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness training, Disability Awareness training, and we check our Black Cabs every 6 months. I find it deeply worrying that Wolverhampton Council chooses to license taxi drivers on the basis of just one face-to-face meeting.
"I'm pleased to say that by protecting licensing standards here in Coventry, we in turn protect the safety of Black Cab customers.
"It is also important to note, that with the new Coventry-built LEVC electric cab , the Black Cab trade will also be helping improve air quality in the local area."
In October 2017 , Cllr Innes and Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham met with City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment Cllr Steve Evans, and Cllr Alan Bolshaw, to discuss the ongoing licensing issues.
Following a meeting that was described by Cllr Innes as "frank", discussions appeared to be moving in a positive direction.
At the conclusion of these talks Cllr Innes said: “As Wolverhampton is granting licenses to taxi drivers that it will be up to Coventry City Council to manage on a day-to-day basis, the fees paid by Coventry taxi drivers are essentially subsidising Wolverhampton’s taxi office.
“I explained this subsidy is not acceptable, and Wolverhampton City Council has agreed to provide enforcement of Wolverhampton-licensed taxis in Coventry.
“Wolverhampton City Council has also agreed to contact their Coventry-based taxi drivers with any messages Coventry City Council needs to communicate.
"We need to issue messages to local drivers on a variety of occasions through the year, eg when there is a big event in the city, or when there are major road works.
“Wolverhampton council has also agreed to ask Coventry-based applicants to consider choosing to license in Coventry instead.”