• Mon. May 27th, 2024

Taxi drivers in Oxford ‘accuse council of being ‘unfair’

Byoxfordnewspaper

Oct 4, 2022

TAXI drivers have accused the council of being ‘unfair and unjust’ against them leading to Abingdon having a lack of drivers.

Gazeka Khan, director of private taxi company Her Ride in Oxford, said she wanted to raise awareness of South Oxfordshire District Council ‘penalising and discriminating’ against drivers.

She said officers ‘rush’ to revoke or suspend taxi badges and vehicle licenses leading to the ‘people of Abingdon and Didcot struggling as they aren't enough drivers’ as well as drivers ‘struggling to get existing drivers taxi and vehicle badges renewed in a reasonably timeframe’.

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“I have been witnessing this since the start of the pandemic,” she said. “During which they changed and implemented new policies with minimum consultation and made little effort to pass this onto drivers resulting in many losing their licenses.

“It isn't the job of the district council taxi licensing to catch drivers out but to work together with them as both parties should work in unison.

“There is a serious breakdown in relationship between the two, resulting in drivers leaving the profession and loss of earnings which during these trying times isn't something an office of the council should be part taking in.”

Taxi driver Kaiser Shah had to wait five weeks for licencing renewal when it is ‘supposed to take three to five days’.

Another driver, Murali Gunarajah, faced delays due to needing a DBS check from India despite moving to Sri Lanka as a teenager and giving up his Indian citizenship.

Miss Khan said: “Are they trying to make life more tricky for their taxi drivers? The taxi licensing team are still not answering their phone calls whilst most others do and most of their officers are still working from home.

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“This is a downfall of the public office and this team needs to be bought to account as they have caused havoc within the industry.

“We are struggling to recruit drivers and this team is not doing anything to assist.”

A spokesperson for Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire District Councils said: “The councils refute any suggestion that licensing officers are acting improperly.

“All decisions, including revocation or suspension of taxi licences are carefully considered, taking into account all of the information available.

“The councils aim to process applications within three weeks of receipt but cannot guarantee timescales as there are a number of factors which may influence this such as availability of staff and the number of applications.

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“As such, the councils remind applicants to apply well in advance of their licence renewal – at least six weeks before or 12 weeks when they need a new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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