Bolton

Taxi and private hire licence holders in Bolton will each receive a £700 Covid-19 support scheme after the local borough council approved a support scheme for those hit hardest by the pandemic.

The council confirmed that the scheme will provide licence-holders with a payment of £700 to meet a range of vehicle-associated costs. The announcement comes just days after Labour councillors called for the move, with Cllr Kevin McKeon calling the pandemic an “extremely challenging financial climate” for drivers.

The council will make direct contact with those eligible for support through the scheme, following a number of meetings and discussions with the private hire and hackney carriage trades and their representatives.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “We would like to thank the taxi trade representatives for supporting the council in developing this financial package over the past few weeks. We know this will be very welcome and thank them for their commitment to assist the council to deliver the support over the coming months ahead.”

Cllr Nick Peel, leader of the Bolton Labour Group, said that he welcomed the move, but questioned why it had taken so long. He said: “I am pleased that the council has finally agreed to listen to us. We have been calling for this for a while, with councillors and Yasmin Qureshi MP leading the way. A lot of people will be asking the question; why didn’t it happen sooner?”

The move has been welcomed by Bolton drivers. Charlie Oakes of the Hackney Drivers Association, said: “The trade is going through hard times, we thank the council and staff for all their hard work and being upfront with us, the money will help.”

Yasif Khan of the Bolton Private Hire Association added: “We would like to thank the councillors and the licensing officers for the help they have given through this pandemic.”