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Stockton private hire drivers are demanding that the local council changes a rule that forbids them from having tinted rear windows in their vehicles.

Stockton Council taxi rules dictate back passenger panes must allow 70% of light through so customers can be seen from the outside – but that means many modern cars do not qualify, forcing drivers into expensive and often impossible glass replacement.

Tahir Ali, chairman of the Stockton Hackney Carriage Driver Association (SHCDA), called for the regulation to be relaxed as drivers are finding it difficult to find or buy clear replacement windows.

Councillors are in favour of the change, and have recommended that the rule be relaxed so that the 30% of light to travel through back passenger windows. Cllr Norma Stephenson said: “We can’t have it all. We’ve put restrictions on the condition of vehicles – and if people are going to scrapyards for windows, these vehicles are in scrapyards for a reason. They’ve probably been on a car that’s had an accident – and the way we’re going, we’re going to struggle to get taxi drivers in Stockton.”

Council solicitor Jonathan Nertney said: “This is an example where the policy is having a restrictive effect on the trade. They are buying a new car which has tinted windows – and we’re saying it can’t be licensed because the tint level doesn’t comply with the policy. They have to go away to put windows in to comply and they can’t – it’s having an unjustifiable impact.”