Motorists are being warned to avoid parts of Birmingham city centre during the rush-hour as black cab drivers hold EIGHT more go-slow protests.
Gridlock is expected in the roads around New Street station as the cabbies drive around at a snail’s pace over the next two weeks.
The first day of their protest on Tuesday resulted in gridlock at Holloway Circus during the morning rush hour.
Cabbies are holding the demos because they’re unhappy with the way they’re being treated by Birmingham City Council .
And now drivers are being warned to change their routes if they want to avoid getting caught up in the congestion again.
The protest is being held by Hackney Carriage drivers who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.
Organisers said Tuesday’s demo attracted over 80 vehicles when it was held between 8am and 10am.
Furious motorists blasted their horns as they became stuck in standstill traffic at one of the city centre’s main islands.
Bus users were forced to get off at Pagoda Island and rail commuters found a taxi shortage after coming off at New Street Station.
One taxi driver said: “I feel terrible doing this, but it’s the only way of letting people know how the council is neglecting us.”
Other protests are planned on the following dates:
- Wednesday, April 24 – 8am to 10am
- Thursday, April 25 – 3pm to 6pm
- Friday, April 26 – 3pm to 6pm
- Monday, April 29 – 8am to 10am
- Tuesday, April 30 – 8am to 10am
- Wednesday, May 1 – 3pm to 6pm
- Thursday, May 2 – 3pm to 6pm
- Friday, May 3 – 8am to 10am.
Why is this happening?
The drivers’ biggest gripe is how the introduction of the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will affect them.
Due to start next January, there will be a daily charge of £8 for high-polluting cars travelling inside the A4540 ring road.
These are diesels older than EURO 6 (2015) and petrols older than EURO 4 (2006).
Hundreds of diesel black cab drivers face having to upgrade their vehicles if they want to avoid the fees.
They have been quoted costs of around £60,000 to buy new ‘cleaner’ black cabs – an amount many say they can’t afford.
RMT members are also unhappy with the way they’re being treated by Birmingham City Council about other issues, including the arrival of Uber drivers in Birmingham and letting private hire vehicles from Wolverhampton ply their trade freely without restrictions, they claim.
How will their go-slow affect me?
During their protests black cabbies will line up outside New Street Station and then set off in a convoy around the city centre, travelling at just 10mph.
The biggest choke point will be Holloway Circus – Pagoda Island – and will affect traffic coming into the city centre from Bristol Road and Holloway Head.
During this two hour period cabbies will not be picking up passengers, including those getting off trains at New Street station.
Why are the cabbies angry?
They claim all these changes and restrictions have been imposed on them without consultation.
Raja Amin, president for RMT Midlands region, said his members felt they had been “steamrollered” into accepting the new policies without any input.
“We feel there have been no meaningful discussions or negotiations and no real changes to the initial proposals,” he said.
What has the council said in response?
A council spokesman added: “We consulted with the general public and the taxi and private hire trade to prepare licensing policies in readiness for the Clean Air Zone and, as a result of feedback received from almost 1,400 individuals and organisations, made a number of changes to our proposals.
“These include replacing the emission standard due to take effect from 1 January 2020 with a vehicle age policy, as well as making the option of a retrofit available to a much wider range of taxis.
“Additionally, drivers who book a retrofit before 1 January 2020 but cannot be accommodated by a retrofitting centre until after that date will be exempt from the Clean Air Zone charge until that work can be carried out.”