Welwyn Hatfield cabbies rally against crippling regulations

The taxi drivers' meeting

The taxi drivers' meeting - Credit: Archant

Welwyn Hatfield cabbies will launch a mass demonstration against laws that they claim are crippling their livelihoods.

More than 40 cabbies have backed plans to lobby the borough council over drivers from other areas being allowed to operate in Welwyn Hatfield.

They claimed the regulations were putting the public at risk, as rigorous safety checks that locally licensed drivers go through are not always required elsewhere.

At a public meeting this morning, cabbie Chris Hawkings said: “At the moment it’s more beneficial for some of our drivers to go to another area, get a licence there and then come and work here.

“How is that keeping the public safe?

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“Do you want your daughter or wife to get in a car like that without the strict regulations?”

The cabbies also claimed that Uber drivers can adjust their fares – enabling them to unfairly undercut local workers – without being restricted by the same safety rules.

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“Regulations are there for the protection of the public,” said Garry Laws, who has been a cab driver for 29 years. “But by allowing Uber here, which the council has no jurisdiction over, they cannot do anything to them.

“We go through so many checks, and so does the car, but with these out-of-towners none of those are being done.”

The demonstration will be within the next month, and could involve the group driving to the council offices – potentially causing traffic chaos – before handing over a petition demanding change.

Darshan Kuma said: “We are forced to work long hours and put our lives in danger.

“You see some drivers sleeping on the wheel because they have to work long hours to feed their family.”

Father-of-two Shahzad Malik added that although he will back the petition, he feels the demonstration will be the key to triggering change.

A council spokeswoman said: “We share concerns raised at the meeting and continue to work with neighbouring authorities, including Transport for London, to help ensure we take the appropriate action against drivers operating outside current legislation.”

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