THE state of the city’s taxi and private hire industry was laid bare by a social media post last week. It clearly spelt out just how devastating the impact of the pandemic has been on the income of taxi drivers in Glasgow and across Scotland.

The post covered how one driver had just completed their first hire after more than two hours on shift and received only £4.60. Nowhere near enough to cover the minimum of £4 per hour for the fixed costs of running a taxi – which don’t include the addition of fuel at 60p-70p per hour.

While there can be no doubt that our entire economy has suffered because of Covid-related restrictions, few sectors have been hit harder than the travel and hospitality businesses that the taxi trade relies on.

The taxi driver’s story above is representative of the hardship faced by thousands of taxi drivers across the city who, after the SNP government had them wait for more than nine months, are now expected to be grateful for a single grant payment of £1500. This belated payment doesn’t even begin to cover the costs of taxi drivers haemorrhaging cash as they try to make ends meet and do everything they can to support their families.

It is even more galling for Glasgow’s taxi drivers now that we see a number of other Scottish local authorities recognising the desperate plight the industry finds itself in and have offered taxi drivers additional support. Aberdeen and Dundee city councils have now been joined by Edinburgh in providing top-up cash grants from their discretionary funds.

Councils are needing to dip into these funds because the dedicated monies provided to us by the SNP Government to fund taxi grants are now having to be returned. That’s despite Glasgow still having £5 million left in the pot that could be distributed to hard-pressed drivers.

Glasgow Conservative councillors are demanding that the SNP administration emulate the top-up cash scheme using discretionary funds here in Glasgow. Surely our drivers are just as deserving of support from the council as other taxi drivers?

It appears the SNP in Glasgow don’t think so. They have been completely silent as they preside over millions of pounds being sent back to their colleagues in Holyrood as drivers beg them for support.

They simply can’t explain to them why Glasgow isn’t utilising its discretionary fund to join other city councils in funding drivers in the same way. Even their SNP colleagues in Edinburgh are showing them the way.

This stance is somewhat ironic given that Susan Aitken, the leader of the council, has regularly been seen as a friend of the taxi trade. We all remember the headlines last year of her scandalous use of the council’s taxi account on the public purse. It seems she had no problem with taxis when they were reportedly chauffeuring her around the city to SNP campaign events, but now when they are pleading to her, the silence is deafening. With gigs being cancelled as a result of Covid, perhaps she just doesn’t have a need for taxis anymore.

Glasgow Conservatives called her out then and we’ll continue to do so now. What exactly do the SNP in Glasgow have against hard-working taxi drivers that they think they are not worthy of the support offered elsewhere in Scotland?

Our taxi trade makes a crucial contribution both to Glasgow’s night-time economy as well as the wider wellbeing of our people. From assisting travel to hospital appointments to providing the freedom for our elderly and disabled community to meet and go about their daily lives. It would be a damning indictment on the SNP administration if this trade was lost to our city as a result of them sitting on their hands.