Taxi bosses have hit back over claims that drivers’ livelihoods are being put at risk by Wolverhampton Council’s controversial licensing system.
Drivers say it is flooding the market and leaving them without work, a claim which has been rubbished by bosses from the city’s biggest four private hire operators.
But according to the Express and Star, the owners of ABC Cars, Wednesfield Radio Cars, 24 7 and Go Carz have backed the city council’s licensing system and accused drivers of ‘flexing their muscles’ by putting forward a series of ‘unreasonable demands’.
They said that they have lengthy staff shortages and struggle to fill vacancies, with ABC Cars alone currently looking for up to 20 drivers.
Neil Caley, who runs ABC Cars, said: “Drivers say that the licensing system is affecting their ability to make a living, but we see no evidence of that. I need to take on between ten and 20 drivers for the winter and I can’t get them in. There is a shortage of drivers willing to work proper shifts, not a shortage of work.”
Wednesfield Radio Cars boss Jim Sharma said: “The licensing staff at Wolverhampton Council were very smart and got ahead of the game when the 2015 Deregulation Act came out. As far as we are concerned the system is the best it has ever been. Drivers need to understand that the council is operating within the law.
“If they have a problem they should be protesting at Parliament, not on Wolverhampton ring road.”
The West Midlands Private Hire Drivers’ Association has submitted a list of seven issues which it says it wants the council to address.
They include licence control, permanent stickers on vehicles, and rules around working exclusively for a single operator.
Mr Sharma said: “We want to protect drivers, it is in our interests. But none of these issues are affecting their livelihoods. These are unreasonable demands and the whole thing is purely about them flexing their muscles.”
The bosses have also responded to concerns raised over city private hire firms having several out-of-town operators registered at their head offices.
Wednesfield Radio Cars base on Raynor Road has 12 firms listed and ABC’s Ettingshall Road headquarters is home to 15 operators.
Mr Caley explained: “We do that to help other operators combat Uber, which also helps us. By having a base in Wolverhampton, these operators are able to offer drivers work in cities, where they could otherwise have to wait for months to get a licence.”