Drivers’ strike threat in Slough

TAXI drivers in Slough have threatened to strike over “scandalous” increases to the price they pay to park outside the town’s railway station.

The chairman of the Slough Taxi Federation says the annual cost of hiring five spaces for the firm’s 100 taxis has ballooned from £8,000 to £86,000.

Paramjit Badial said the new charge imposed by First Great Western (FGW) could not be justified by the amount of trade generated by the rank, as business had been declining for the past five to six years.

He said: “If we have to strike, we will strike. The people who use our taxis to get home or get to work, these are the people who are going to suffer.

“We provide a service to people in Slough, and this is the treatment we’re getting from a company that’s worth millions.

“All they’re providing us with is five taxi spaces. They’re trying to break us up, but we’re looking to protect the welfare of Slough taxi drivers.”

He said the firm’s self-employed drivers would struggle to pay their share of the new fee, which has gone up from £70 to £667.67 excluding VAT.

He added: “Insurance has gone up 50-60%, fuel prices have gone up, and on top of that we’re getting squeezed with this. It’s scandalous to increase the rent by this much.”

Mr Badial said the federation was willing to negotiate with FGW, and had paid for its permits at the lower rate until March 25.

Dan Payne, spokesman for FGW, said charges for taxi permits were being standardised, as they were previously negotiated on an “ad hoc, station by station” basis.

He said: “Our issue is that they (Slough taxis) might not have been paying enough in the first place.

“There is a market rate for that kind of permit. Let’s not forget the huge amount of business those spaces would bring.”

Mr Payne said permits for FGW-controlled taxi ranks would all be charged at the higher rate on renewal of the permits.

FGW awarded a three-year contract to Cabfind in June to provide its taxi management services.

A spokeswoman for Cabfind refused to comment.