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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2021 8:54 pm 
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Hundreds of taxi drivers to stage protest at Sandwell Council house in Oldbury

AROUND 200 taxi drivers are set to stage a protest outside Sandwell Council house in Oldbury later this month.

Drivers are unhappy at the length of time they say it is taking the council to issue private hire licenses.

The protest, on Wednesday August 11, is being organised by Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association.

Secretary Imran Mahmood Qureshi said: "The application process is taking far too long - it's taking months whereas before the pandemic it was much quicker.

"People want to get on the road and do work - they are struggling and have bills to pay."

He added: "There is no communication between the council and drivers, who can't call anyone to check how applications are going.

"For drivers to be able to pay they have to accept an incoming call from a withheld number and are often driving so they can’t answer, but then there’s no number for them to call back up and pay."

Mr Qureshi, aged 54, said he is expecting 200 to 300 drivers to take part in the protest, which will start at 11am.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2021 9:54 pm 
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Typical article that makes it known that there's an issue with processing applications, but precisely what that issue is isn't at all clear for people who know the trade.

I mean, the rep says it's taking *months*, and implies that drivers are off the road and not working during that period. Which seems unlikely, and indeed he says that one issue is that they're required to take a phone call, but that they can't because they're *driving* :-s

That's not to say there isn't an issue, because the rep says 200-300 drivers are due to protest. Unless... :roll:

And it presumably can't be a pandemic-related issue about licensing *new* applicants, because 300 current drivers seem unlikely to protest about that.

So who knows :?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2021 5:16 am 
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our council is no longer issuing temporary badges if your delayed application because of dbs ,medical delays etc. you have a problem but they have let one of my drivers continue on their existing badge

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2021 1:00 pm 
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Reasonably long piece, but even a careful reading doesn't reveal precisely what the issue is :?


'We are being ripped off' - 200 taxi drivers protest in Sandwell

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/black- ... 0-21288218

Over 200 taxi drivers protested outside Sandwell Council House over private hire licence fees and long delays in receiving licences.

Image
Image: Imran Mahmood Qureshi/Birmingham Mail

Taxi drivers took the streets to protest against Sandwell council for long delays in receiving private hire licences, as pressure continues to mount against the authority.

More than 200 drivers staged a protest outside Sandwell council house, in Oldbury, on Wednesday at 11am, organised by the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association.

Drivers are unhappy at the length of time they say it is taking the council to issue private hire licences.

Imran Mahmood Qureshi, secretary of Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association, who organised the protest, said: "This problem has been going on for more than ten years.

"During the pandemic it was horrendous. We have often felt like we are going circles, where we write to our council leaders, and then receive no response."

He added: "Frankly, we feel like we are being ripped off. The council say they are committed to helping us, but if they can't commit, why should we listen to what they have to say?"

According to badge and taxi plate data seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, it takes between nine and 12 months for new applications for a private hire licence to be processed.

For Wolverhampton city council, it takes approximately three weeks.

A one year taxi plate costs £353 for a vehicle under five years old, and £399 if it is over five years old, if the vehicle is registered with Sandwell council.

Other councils, such as Dudley council and Birmingham city council, charge £235 and £185 for any aged vehicle.

Image
Image: Imran Mahmood Qureshi/Birmingham Mail

Cllr Jay Anandou, deputy leader of opposition for Sandwell council, said: "After meeting with the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers' Association, reps have urged the council leadership to act swiftly on the long standing demands of the drivers.

"When other councils take far less time to process a new operating licence for private hire drivers, Sandwell takes almost one year, which is highly inefficient, unfair on hard working people, and needs an immediate attention.’’

He added: "There needs to self-introspection on how the council operates their licensing regime for private hire drivers in Sandwell, not only for the drivers but to the Sandwell economy at large as this inefficiency in handling licencing affects our overall Sandwell economy and transport infrastructure – and makes Sandwell look anti-business."

Paul Brent, who represents the National Taxi Association for the north-west and Midlands, said: "Taxi drivers have not been treated fairly, both during the pandemic and as we come out of lockdown.

“Many have lost livelihoods. So with a long and bureaucratic application process, and little communication with the council, it is no wonder taxi drivers in Sandwell are protesting."

He added: “We have driven people to get their vaccine appointments, and helped deliver vital goods in times of need. All we ask for is self-respect and the ability to do our jobs."

Cllr Rajbir Singh, leader of Sandwell council, said: "The past 18 months have been a challenging time, particularly for those in the taxi trade. I would like to thank you all for your continued support and for the commitment throughout the pandemic to continue working and transporting people who needed your support to make essential journeys.

"We are listening to the drivers’ concerns and are in the process of implementing a user-friendly software system that will allow drivers to apply, track, and make payments, and this will bring huge benefits to them."

He added: "We remain committed to providing a good quality service in a safe way for both customers and staff.”

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Image: Imran Mahmood Qureshi/Birmingham Mail


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2021 1:02 pm 
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Quote:
According to badge and taxi plate data seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, it takes between nine and 12 months for new applications for a private hire licence to be processed.

For Wolverhampton city council, it takes approximately three weeks.

So it's about *new* applications? But why would 200 drivers be protesting about that? :-s

Cllr Jay Anandou, deputy leader of opposition for Sandwell council wrote:
"When other councils take far less time to process a new operating licence for private hire drivers, Sandwell takes almost one year, which is highly inefficient, unfair on hard working people, and needs an immediate attention.’’

Again the word 'new' suggests a new grant rather than renewal. But if that's just loose use of language then if there is a problem then that would mean drivers routinely off the road for almost a year waiting for renewals to be processed? Seems unlikely.

(And have ignore the word 'operating', which presumably doesn't relate to an operator's licence, and is again just loose use of language [-( )

Anyway, I'm sure it'll all be sorted out. Eventually :-o


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 12, 2021 6:59 pm 
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So it's about *new* applications? But why would 200 drivers be protesting about that? :-s

I don't think it is, as drivers wouldn't be protesting at the lack of new entrants. 8-[

I suspect it's over the time it takes for relicensing.

Think that's a UK wide problem at the mo with civil servants not leaving their homes.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2021 12:38 pm 
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But what's their gripe, precisely? Surely they're not off the road for up to a year because of renewal delays?

That would certainly be worth protesting about, but I doubt that's actually happening, thus I can't work out precisely why they feel the need to protest.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 13, 2021 8:09 pm 
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StuartW wrote:
But what's their gripe, precisely? Surely they're not off the road for up to a year because of renewal delays?

I suspect it's down to them not being able to get direct access to the office, and them panicking when they put in a late application.

Happens down here all the time.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 12:20 pm 
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Taxi driver protest leads to "positive" changes

https://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/19 ... e-changes/

ACTION is being taken by Sandwell Council after more than 200 disgruntled taxi drivers staged a protest outside its council house in Oldbury.

Drivers are unhappy at the length of time they say it is taking the council to issue private hire licenses.

The protest, which saw more than 200 drivers gather outside the council house earlier this month, was organised by Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association.

Secretary Imran Mahmood Qureshi said: "I was in a meeting where we presented our demands.

"The council agreed to make changes immediately including opening the licensing office five days a week and sending out reminder letters to drivers."

Mr Qureshi said the application process had been taking far too long in Sandwell due to changes which came in during lockdown.

He said: "People are going to drive in Birmingham instead as they issue licences in three to four weeks. Within a month they are on the road, but in Sandwell it's taking months.

"We have heard good things since the protest - that things are starting to improve and are moving forward in a positive way."

Sandwell Council said its leader councillor Rajbir Singh met with drivers to "listen to their concerns and has committed to addressing any remaining issues as quickly as possible."

Cllr Singh said: “The past 18 months have been a challenging time, particularly for those in the taxi trade.

“We are listening to the drivers’ concerns and are in the process of implementing a user-friendly software system that will allow drivers to apply, track and make payments and this will bring huge benefits to them.

"The licensing office is now open five days a week for appointments where these are needed to resolve any issues and the ability to be able to pay online will be available imminently.

"Sandwell Council has also reinstated issuing renewal and expiry reminder letters to assist our drivers. In addition we have reviewed how applications are processed and have agreed to contact all applicants within two working days of receiving their applications.

“We are aware of the current concerns of our licensed drivers and we are working to resolve these as quickly as possible.

"We remain committed to providing a good quality service in a safe way for both customers and staff.”


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 12:20 pm 
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Sandwell Council leader wrote:
"Sandwell Council has also reinstated issuing renewal and expiry reminder letters to assist our drivers. In addition we have reviewed how applications are processed and have agreed to contact all applicants within two working days of receiving their applications."

Still not 100% clear what the issue is, but 'renewal and expiry reminder letters' confirms it's not about new drivers.

But let's waste time sending out reminder letters to drivers, who are that busy protesting that they've forgotten that their licence is about to expire :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 3:29 pm 
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Taxi reforms still not gone ahead seven months on

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/loc ... months-on/

Taxi drivers in Sandwell say they are still waiting for promised reforms to service, as one driver claimed the leader of Sandwell “did not know” about licence issues.

Imran Mahmood Qureshi, secretary of the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association, said they are still waiting for the taxi reforms promised to be delivered by December 2021.

A candidate for the Conservatives in the upcoming local elections, he said taxi drivers were willing to protest again over the lack of communication: “It’s frustrating for us as a trade. They publicly announced that the proposal will be accepted and implemented by Christmas in 2021. But because of leadership change, we have had no option but to just be patient and wait.

“Seven months is a long time to wait for taxi reforms. Other taxi drivers are now going to other councils for their licence.”

Taxi drivers across Sandwell protested outside Sandwell council house in August last year, citing long delays to licence renewals and a lack of communication between the licence office and themselves.

It takes between nine and 12 months for new applications for a private hire licence to be processed in Sandwell.

For Wolverhampton Council, it takes approximately three weeks.

A one-year taxi plate costs £353 for a vehicle under five years old, and £399 if it is over five years old, if the vehicle is registered with Sandwell Council.

Other councils, such as Dudley and Birmingham City, charge £235 and £185 for any aged vehicle.

Ex-council leader Rajbir Singh told the association he was “listening to the drivers’ concerns”, and said the licensing office was open five days a week.

But Mr Qureshi argued they were considering holding a protest over the ordeal, and claimed the new council leader, Kerrie Carmichael, “did not know” about their concerns.

“Back in January I had correspondence with the leader’s office. Eventually they agreed for a meeting this month for answers to our questions.

“We thought if she gave us fruitful answers, that’s fine. If not we will go for protests continually until they accept our demands.

“When we attended in March, [Kerrie Carmichael] told us she didn’t know about our issues, or what was going on. Mr Mohammad Niwaz, the chairman of the association thought: ‘Okay, let’s go for a strike’, but one of our colleagues who attended the meeting said: ‘No, don’t strike, just give us a bit more time’.”

A Sandwell council spokesperson said: “The taxi licensing service has made a number of improvements to its service in response to concerns raised by the taxi trade, including the introduction of new licensing software to enable online applications and payments. Further phases of the new software system are in progress and will be introduced this year.

“A review of fees was undertaken last year and no fee increases were made. A further review will be undertaken when the new licensing system is fully operational to assess any impact on fees.

“Progress with this and other improvements are shared regularly with the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association via the Sandwell taxi licensing forum, which currently meets on a monthly basis.

“A meeting was held between representatives from the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association and the leader of the council on 8 March 2022, at which the leader agreed to look into some matters raised. It was agreed that a further meeting would be held in four weeks’ time and this is being arranged.”


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 3:29 pm 
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A Sandwell council spokesperson said: “The taxi licensing service has made a number of improvements to its service in response to concerns raised by the taxi trade, including the introduction of new licensing software to enable online applications and payments. Further phases of the new software system are in progress and will be introduced this year.

By 'improvements' maybe they mean being part of the new laptop class working from home? :roll:


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2022 9:30 pm 
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“Seven months is a long time to wait for taxi reforms.

Really? [-(

The taxi trade has been waiting 175 years.

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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2022 9:03 pm 
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Fellas still aren't happy.

Sandwell taxi drivers to stage a four-mile go-slow protest

Image

Sandwell taxi drivers will converge in their vehicles on Wednesday from West Bromwich to Tipton and stage a major protest over the council’s reluctance to address their concerns. The Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association will embark on a go-slow protest this Wednesday (May 4) to show its opposition to Sandwell council, starting in West Bromwich town centre and ending at Sandwell’s taxi licence office, in Cradley Heath.

It follows similar protests last year in August and over the Christmas holidays, where up to 200 taxi drivers gathered at the council house to raise their concerns about application processes and doubts about how fair taxi contracts are. In January, the council's own documents into taxi contracts had failed to record a contract worth £20.1 million.

Other taxi drivers complained about incomplete information submitted by transport companies, raising questions if the contracts were fair. They claim the Labour -led local authority has failed to review licence fees and charges, which they say is forcing taxi drivers to seek their licences in more competitive councils, such as Wolverhampton city council.

It comes as the Local Democracy Reporting Service has learned the leader of Sandwell council, Kerrie Carmichael, cancelled a last minute meeting with the association after discovering a taxi driver will stand as a Conservative candidate in this year’s local elections.

Mohammed Niwaz, chairman of the Sandwell Private Hire Drivers Association, said: “We contacted the leader, Kerrie Carmichael, after a long wait. When we met with her last month and explained to her taxi trade issues.

“She asked for three to four weeks to meet with licensing officials so she could understand the problems we have, and what she could do for us. She had a follow-up meeting planned for us, but cancelled our meeting because Imran Qureshi, the secretary of our association, is standing as a Conservative in the local elections.

“We feel like we are jumping through hoops just to be heard. We just want to be able to do our jobs freely and fairly.”

According to figures from last year’s taxi licence applications, new licence applications registered at Sandwell council take between nine and 12 months to be processed. At Wolverhampton city council, it takes approximately three weeks.

A one-year taxi plate can cost £353 for a vehicle under five years old, and £399 if it is older if the vehicle is registered with Sandwell council. Other councils, such as Dudley and Birmingham, charge £235 and £185 for any aged vehicle, respectively.

A Sandwell council spokesperson said: “We are making a number of improvements to our taxi licensing service in response to issues raised by the taxi trade, including the introduction of new licensing software to enable online applications and payments.

“We regularly meet with representatives of private hire drivers and are committed to making further changes to improve the licensing process and ensure consistent standards for taxi and private hire passengers.”

“A meeting between the leader of the council and private hire driver representatives was arranged for this month. However, we were advised that it would be prudent to postpone this until after the local elections given that one of the driver representatives confirmed that he is standing as a candidate in the forthcoming local elections. Arrangements will be made for the meeting to take place as soon as possible after the local elections."

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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2022 10:28 am 
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According to figures from last year’s taxi licence applications, new licence applications registered at Sandwell council take between nine and 12 months to be processed.

And they're complaining? :roll:

Bring it on, I say :D


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