Ripon’s 25 taxi drivers have had a plea for grants to make their vehicles Covid-secure rejected by Harrogate Borough Council.
The Stray Ferret reports that the drivers approached the council for help towards measures such as installing screens and hand sanitiser units.
Richard Fieldman, a former chair of the Ripon Taxi Association, said: “Our business has been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, but the council is unwilling to help us to make our vehicles Covid-secure.
“I am currently earning just 25 per cent of what I would make in a normal year and all drivers on the Ripon rank are in a similar situation. We believe we are a forgotten part of the economy and the council doesn’t want to know.
“For them, we are an afterthought, while other local authorities across the UK, including Middlesbrough, have helped their licensed taxi operators.”
The council has also refused to let drivers reduce their overhead costs while they were unable to operate during Covid by changing the category of insurance on their vehicles from business to private and leisure use.
Mr Fieldman said: “Other local authorities allowed their taxi drivers to do this, but Harrogate said we would lose our licence if we changed our insurance while our cars were parked up and earning us nothing.”
A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said: “As a district authority we have limited funds available, but will always offer advice and support where we can to businesses.
“For those drivers who chose not to operate, and subsequently cancelled their business insurance, we temporarily suspended their licence. Once insured, we are more than happy to reinstate their licence.
“We have also allocated around £20,000 to the ring-fenced private hire vehicle and operator’s licence account. This meant that we will not raise licence fees at all next year.”