TAXI drivers across East Lancashire say they will support two strikes which have been called by fed-up cabbies in Rossendale this weekend.
Private hire and hackney carriage drivers’ representatives in Burnley and Hyndburn have backed walkouts and will not send taxis into the valley this weekend.
Anger at new licensing and enforcement policies, drawn up by Rossendale Borough Council, has built up over the past 18 months and prompted the industrial action.
The introduction of a new penalty points scheme is a central issue, with drivers fearing their liveliihoods will be placed under threat over ‘minor’ dismeanours.
Now after the codes were rubberstamped by councillors, private hire and hackney carriage drivers are preparing to stage strikes.
Two taxi blackouts have been called – from 7pm on Friday to 7am Saturday and from 7pm on Saturday to 7am on Sunday.
Dave Lawrie, of the Public Protection Association, which speaks on behalf of valley taxi drivers, said 150 of the borough’s 268 drivers had voted for strike action.
Mr Lawrie added: “All private hire and hackney carriage drivers will be out and we will be asking drivers in Burnley and Accrington to support us in this dispute, as we have done with other disagreements there.”
Mohammed Arif, of Hyndburn Taxi Association, added: “It might depend on individual drivers but we would support their action. It is a very harsh regime in Rossendale.”
Burnley Private Hire Association’s spokesman, also called Mohammed Arif, said: “We should be supporting our colleagues and we will attempt to co-operate with them.
“There is so much red tape and it is putting people’s livelihoods at risk.”
Tomorrow Rossendale cabbies will protest outside the borough council’s one stop shop, off James Street, Rawtenstall.
Council leader Coun Tony Swain said: “The drivers have the right to strike – that is their prerogative. But we have introduced this policy for the safety of passengers and drivers, first and foremost.”
Only an 11-month hour postponement of the new codes, for fresh talks, averted similar strike action late last year.
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