Glasgow Private Hire drivers have called on the city’s council to follow Manchester’s example and delay plans to bring in a Low Emission Zone, as it would result in an extra cost burden for many drivers.
The Scottish Private Hire Association has added its weight behind mounting pressure on Glasgow City Council to delay the implementation of phase two of the city’s LEZ until summer 2024.
Phase two of the LEZ is currently set to come into force in summer 2023, but the SPHA said this would plunge drivers into further debt and force even more drivers out of the trade at a time when there is a major ongoing driver shortage.
In a letter to Glasgow councillors, the SPHA said delaying the LEZ start date would help drivers recover from the devastating financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite financial assistance to the trade, many drivers are still in financial hardship.
Eddie Grice, general secretary of the SPHA, said: “A great number of private hire drivers require a further extension to the LEZ implementation date so that they can better afford the transition to LEZ-compliant vehicles or seek appropriate retrofit solutions.”
He continued: “By implementing phase two of the LEZ in 2023, these drivers will be forced to take on further debt to be able to purchase newer, compliant vehicles before they can afford to. We fear this will lead to a further reduction in the number of private hire drivers as many more will be forced out of the trade in 2023 if full enforcement comes into place.”
“We are urging the City Administration Committee at Glasgow City Council to vote for a delay in the implementation of the enforcement of phase two of the LEZ until the summer of 2024. We cannot stress enough how negatively private hire drivers will be affected if such a delay is not put in place. We are appealing to the better nature of Glasgow City Council to throw the trade a lifeline and help drivers recover from the effects of the pandemic before making a decision that will plunge drivers into further debt or force even more drivers out of the trade.”
The SPHA noted that other cities including Edinburgh and Manchester had delayed or announced major revisions to clean air zone plans.
Under the proposed rules, only cars that meet Euro 4 (petrol) and Euro 6 (diesel) will avoid having to pay a charge to enter the LEZ. This means generally only diesel engine vehicles registered after September 2015, and petrol vehicles registered from 2006 onwards will meet the required LEZ standards.
The SPHA call is backed by the Glasgow Cab Section of Unite the Union, which is concerned that around 1,000 of the 1,420 taxis black taxis licensed by Glasgow City Council would not comply with new rules from June 2023. Unite is calling for black cabs to be exempt from the scheme until 2027.