Hereford’s taxi drivers are threatening to strike this New Year’s Eve if new, “not fit for purpose” licensing conditions are imposed on the trade.

The lengthy task of bringing taxi licensing in the county into line with government rules has been an ongoing source of friction between drivers and Herefordshire Council.

The council, which oversees licensing of around 900 vehicles in the county, intends to finally approve new requirements covering vehicles and driver proficiency at a full meeting this Friday.

Drivers say the impact of these changes will be to drive many out of the job, as is already happening, and will discourage newcomers, making it harder than ever to get a taxi in and around Hereford.

While they have succeeded in getting some of the tougher requirements relaxed, such as a “knowledge” test of routes around the county, drivers still had outstanding concerns and demanded a further meeting before their final approval.


One issue is that, having demanded drivers install in-vehicle CCTV that records onto removeable SD memory cards, the council’s new rules insist that “SD cards will not be acceptable”. The evidence that drivers must provide to show their vehicle is roadworthy also remains contentious.

Senior council official Marc Willimont wrote to Hereford Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Association chairman John Jones last month saying it had been agreed with senior councillors that “there was no requirement to meet, given that decisions had already been made on the outstanding matters”.

In response, the strike was proposed and agreed at an association meeting unless the council backtracks on this.

Now Mr Jones has lodged a question with Friday’s meeting, demanding: “Why are the taxi policy/conditions on the agenda when it is full of flaws and legal errors?”

Accusing the licensing department of “a cavalier attitude”, he claims it failed to make agreed changes to the text, adding: “We only required one meeting” to straighten these issues out ahead of the vote.

He said he still hopes councillors will hold off approving the new rules “until further necessary and some already agreed changes are made”, rather than those before them which “are not fit for the purpose”.

Otherwise, he warned Mr Willimont: “It might be worth you notifying the police of the likely implications.”

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The briefing for Friday’s meeting warns that making any changes to the policy at this stage “is not recommended as it has been created by a legal specialist following consultation with taxi trade members and then meetings with both the local and national trade associations”.

Should the new package of rules be voted through, they will come into force two months later, “to allow time for trade compliance”.

Back in March, more than 50 Hereford taxi drivers rallied at a council meeting and across the city to show their anger at how the licensing changes were being made.

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