Up to 20,000 private hire drivers could lose their jobs if Transport for London presses ahead with plans to force all drivers to take a written English test.

LPHCA chairman Steve Wright told the association’s conference at the Heathrow Marriott hotel that the English language tests were discriminatory against ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities such as dyslexia. “You don’t need entrepreneurial visa level to drive a private hire vehicle,” he told delegates.

A second meeting with TfL over the issue is planned, and Wright said he was hopeful London Mayor Sadiq Khan was “committed to doing the right thing” on the tests.

Wright also vowed to continue fighting for more eqitable licence fees from Transport for London, despite a High Court defeat over the controversial fee structure earlier this year. “That’s not dead. We have some plans to go back to TfL to restructure the fees,” he said.

“The figures don’t stack up, and are not fit for purpose. One of our members is facing a bill of £54,000 to add one vehicle to his fleet. Meanwhile an app company can pay £1 million and add as many drivers as it likes.”

Wright added there were no winners under the new regime, with some companies already being forced out of business or merging – which means less revenue for TfL. “We are going back with new proposals,” Wright said.

LPHCA is running a petition on change.org in protest against proposals by the mayor to remove the congestion charge exemption from private hire cars – a move that has been knocked back by the London assembly.

“We are a mode of transport that reduces car use and has the cleanest mode of transport – and someone has come up with the potty idea of congestion charging us,” Wright said.

He claimed the removal of the charge could double the cost of an essential car journey by a disabled person. “Private hire is a mode of transport used by the disabled and the vulnerable – we reduce congestion and car use,” Wright said. “This is just a tax, and we’ll see more private car use as a result.”

Greg Mendoza, international vice-president of Carey International, added: “Studies don’t show any real benefit through congestion charging. The real reason is to raise money for bankrupt TfL.”

Wright concluded: “We need as many people as possible to sign the petition. There are mayoral elections in 18 months, and politicians take notice of numbers.”

The petition is at

https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-say-no-to-london-s-private-hire-vehicles-being-congestion-charged