The chairman of an association which represents cabbies in Greater Manchester has said Clean Air Zone charges will ‘devastate’ the business and livelihood of many drivers.
According to the Bolton News, Charles Oakes, chairman of the hackney drivers’ association, believes charges being brought in with the CAZ could push many drivers out of the business and significantly impact the industry as a whole.
“This is going to be a problem for every taxi and PH driver and the authorities know full well what strain it will put on drivers in Bolton and elsewhere,” he said.
“It will put a lot of drivers out of work simply as they can’t afford it.
“People have got to upgrade their vehicles which is unaffordable for many. Covid hit so many drivers’ incomes significantly and they are very much struggling as it is.
“Having to upgrade their car to fit these changes and pay daily charges will devastate many.
“There have been grants available and I cannot fault the council one bit for the help they have been giving but the decisions being made by government are stupid."
The zone is set to be fully rolled out across the whole city-region from May 30 2022, with taxis and PHVs driving in Bolton having to paying £7.50.
Failure to pay the charge will also result in a £120 fine plus the daily charge.
Private vehicles and emission efficient vehicles will not fall within the CAZ, which will cover all 493 square miles of Greater Manchester, making it the largest such project in the UK.
Mr Oakes added: “In Bury we used to have at least 126 hackney cabs before the pandemic but now there are only 50.
“We have not received enough support from the government, it is all a mess at the moment.
“This couldn’t have come at a worse time. It’s asking drivers to pay a significant amount of money, which they can’t make at the moment, for a new engine or car or leave the trade.
“Drivers are just good people trying to earn a decent living and provide for their family.
“With the effects already felt from Covid, when these changes come in many drivers won’t be able to cope with it anymore.”
Cllr Andrew Western, Greater Manchester lead for clean air, said: "The Clean Air Zone is a key component of Greater Manchester’s green revolution, helping to tackle the problem of air pollution.
“We’re working hard to ensure we support affected vehicle owners, including taxi drivers, move to cleaner vehicles so they don’t have to pay a daily charge.
"While the zone launches in May 2022, there will be local exemptions in place to give businesses and organisations more time to apply for funding, including a temporary exemption to May 31, 2023 for GM licensed taxis and PHVs.
“Our goal is to reduce harmful emissions. We want to help as many people and businesses as possible to be driving cleaner vehicles so we can all breathe cleaner air.
“Our clean vehicle funds service will launch in November and I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might be affected to get up to speed at cleanairgm.com, where they can sign up for regular updates.”
In scenes of absolute chaos children with autism were left waiting hours for school buses or asked to get into taxis alone without assistants as the handover of SEN school transport from one company to another was comple