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Dudley private hire drivers celebrate dramatic car colour rule U-turn
8:50pm Wednesday 11th December 2013 in Local
DUDLEY borough private hire drivers are celebrating after a policy U-turn by taxi committee councillors on car colours.
Members of Dudley Council’s committee which regulates drivers and vehicles tonight (December 11) voted to reverse the rule that private hire cars must be white.
The decision came at a boisterous meeting of the taxi committee which was attended by more than 50 drivers, who say being forced to use white cars pushes up costs and puts people in danger of going out of business.
Dudley Private Hire and Taxi Association had fought a long campaign to get the 13-year-old rules revoked and after the meeting chairman Shaz Saleem hailed the victory as a fair result.
Mr Saleem said: “The drivers feel they have been heard, people will get better, safer vehicles operating in Dudley.
“This shows if you go about things in the right way people do listen. Our priority has always been safety and vehicles will be safer - it will make a big difference.”
The committee voted to approve options to remove the restrictions on the colour of both private hire and Hackney carriages.
Private hire cars will be obliged to show door signs which will clearly display taxi licence details and that they pick up advance bookings only.
Solicitor Alisha Harris, for the drivers’ association, told the committee in other boroughs with more relaxed rules there had been no confusion about which vehicles were private hire cars.
She added: “The is no evidence it is essential to have a single colour policy, times have moved on and sometimes policies need updating.”
Supporters of a single colour rule argued it made it easier to identify private hire drivers alleged to have been involved in crime.
The committee heard police broadly supported the single colour rule but had no specific evidence to suggest it reduced offending.
Cllr John Martin rejected the argument single car colour prevents crime. He said: “We shouldn’t stereotype taxi drivers as criminals - they are not.
“For me this really should come down to evidence, we should not base decisions on hunches.”
Committee chairman, cllr Richard Body, said: “Lots of residents simply are not interested, to them a taxi is a taxi. They want to look at door and roof signs, they don’t care if it is white, black or pink.”
The vote to remove the restrictions was greeted with jubilation from drivers who had held a demonstration at Dudley Council House before the start of the meeting.
The change in the rules will come into force in June next year.
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