We have been notified of a planned “go slow” protest by private hire drivers in Leeds from 10pm on Friday, December 22 until 5am on Saturday, December 23, meaning there is likely to be some traffic disruption in parts of the city centre.
A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the planned ‘go slow’ by private hire drivers on Friday night into Saturday morning. We are disappointed that the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation have decided to go ahead with this disruptive action, despite very generous concessions by the council to their objectives as well as ongoing talks between ourselves and their representatives.
“The organisation has met with senior councillors and officers on several occasions over the past two months and we feel that discussions to date have been productive and conciliatory. The organisation has decided at very short notice to undertake the protest to coincide with a very busy time particularly in the city-centre.
“We have very real concerns about the impact on public safety the proposed protest may have in terms of large numbers of city-centre users being able to get in and out of the city centre without delay safely. We are in discussions with the police regarding this matter.”
Chief Inspector Nick Ireland, of the city’s community safety partnership Safer Leeds, said: “We have received information about a proposed ‘go slow’ protest by private hire drivers in Leeds and are working with the council to put appropriate plans in place to minimise any disruption to the public.
“While the police will always facilitate peaceful protest and lawful demonstrations when provided with sufficient notice, we are having to respond spontaneously to this proposed event due the level of notice given. We have made efforts to liaise with and work with the organisers, but despite our efforts there has been no communication from them which limits our ability to plan around this event.”
LPHDO have raised the following issues with Leeds City Council:
- Use of bus lanes/stops by Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs);
- PCNs issued for waiting/picking up/dropping off in bus stops;
- Attacks on drivers in certain areas of the city;
- Livery (stickers) on PHVs.
The following summarises the council’s current position on each of the above issues.
Use of bus lanes by PHVs
- The council, working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and partners, is aiming to double bus patronage within 10 years and have received £174m from Central Government to improve public transport in Leeds.
- In Leeds and across West Yorkshire, hackney carriages are allowed to use bus lanes but not private hire vehicles because of the large number of vehicles involved and the consequent adverse impact on bus services.
- The council also gets requests from other groups to use bus lanes e.g. motorcyclists, low emission vehicles, etc. It would be difficult to resist such requests if we were to accede to this.
PCNs issued for waiting/picking up/dropping off in bus stops
The restriction of no drivers being allowed to stop at city centre bus stops at any time has been in place for some time.
After meeting a representative from the private hire trade, the council has been trialling the following parking enforcement concessions:
- The ‘no parking in bus stops’ regulation will not be enforced after 23.30 (when buses stop running). With exceptions on Albion Street (both sides) and near to McDonalds on Boar Lane (also both sides).
- Allowing drop off and pick up provided there is proof of a fare at that location and there has been no waiting. (Waiting on Boar Lane for a pick up at the railway station or anywhere else is not permitted).
- Where drivers have received multiple tickets for parking in bus stops we will waive all but one payment for PCNs issued in the period 1st September – 3rd November.
Attacks on drivers
- PHV drivers are encouraged to report all offences committed against them as promptly as possible through 101 / 999.
- Safer Leeds prepare a report showing attacks on PHVs to allow for a more targeted pro-active approach.
- The issue is to be brought to the attention of the Anti-Social Behaviour Link Police Officer and the council ASB team too to see if they can assist in any way.
Livery (Stickers) on PHVs
LPHDO have requested removal of all but rear sticker as they believe the livery on the vehicle is identifying them as targets for attacks in certain areas of the city.
All Private Hire vehicles must carry recognisable livery to ensure that members of the public can easily identify them as a legitimate private hire vehicle and not a bogus, unlicensed and uninsured vehicle which is illegally plying for hire. The livery also ensures that the public can differentiate between vehicles licenced here in Leeds or elsewhere in the country.
- However, arrangements are being made for the request to be discussed by the licensing committee in the New Year.
- The council’s licensing committee have also recently commissioned a full review of all taxi and private hire policies and are currently forming working groups to look at each policy inviting comments from the trade, public, police and other interested parties.