MAJOR disruption is anticipated as around 1,000 drivers are expected to take part in a taxi strike in Bradford from 6am to 6pm tomorrow.
The Bradford Taxi Action Group (BTAG), who represent drivers across the Bradford district, are unhappy that Bradford Council is set to introduce a Clean Air Zone in January, which could see drivers having to pay £12.50 a day unless they have a compliant vehicle.
In a letter to Bradford Council, Asif Shah, chairman of The Bradford Taxi Action Group (BTAG), wrote: "Please be advised that BTAG has called for a taxi strike amongst members on Thursday, May 13, 2021 between 6am to 6pm.
"We anticipate a minimum of 1,000 drivers to take part in this strike. Operators have been advised to make arrangements to manage this disruption amongst their customers.
"BTAG is now demanding that the council alters its policy on allowing Euro 6 diesel compliance amongst the private hire sector.
"Hackney carriages have been allowed this exemption but not private hire. This is a discriminatory act against private hire drivers."
Mr Shah added: "We're saying to our drivers don't go work on Thursday.
"This is going to be very disruptive to the public and is not something we've seen in Bradford in a long time.
"We'd just want it highlighted to let people know not to expect taxis on Thursdays.
"Also, please let as many elderly people know as possible. We don't want them walking to the supermarket and then not being able to get a taxi home."
Bradford Council, however, has said they must comply with the Government Clean Air Zone directive.
A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “Bradford Council has been directed to improve the air quality across the district by the Government and we cannot go against this directive.
“We cannot meet the air quality targets set by Government if our Private Hire vehicles continue to use diesel engines. These emit more of the Nitrogen Oxide gases which Government have told us we have to eliminate. Petrol hybrid or electric cars are much better."
However, Mr Shah says that 70 per cent of cars in taxi fleets have diesel engines, and he said that introducing a Clean Air Zone in January leaves a very short time frame for drivers to change to a hybrid car.
"It's unimaginable to expect 2,000 to 3,000 drivers to buy a hybrid car by January," said Mr Shah.
The council spokesperson added: “The only exception Government has allowed is for wheelchair accessible vehicles due to the lack of availability of alternative technologies and the low number of vehicles in our district."
The council also confirmed that exemptions applied to hackney carriage vehicles are no different to those of the private hire trade.
“We work well with recognised taxi trade organisations and have secured grants for our private hire cars that are 60 per cent higher than for other local authorities who have to create Clean Air Zones.
“We value the district’s taxi trade as an important part of our public transport service and will continue to support them as they play an important role in meeting the challenge set by Government.”