ON Friday I joined my fellow Glasgow Conservative councillor John Daly and Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP to hear first-hand the concerns by the Glasgow taxi and private hire trade.

This crucial sector in our city has been hammered on numerous occasions by the SNP/Green coalition in Glasgow and it simply cannot continue.

One of the most important issues raised during the discussions was the SNP’s implementation of a low emission zone which will be fully enforced as of June 1 next year.

This policy will see more than 1000 taxi drivers in our city potentially leaving the trade as they cannot afford new vehicles that are needed to meet the standards to travel in the low emission zone.

While these plans have been known about since 2018, us in the Conservatives have been realistic about what has happened to our taxi trade since the initial announcement of this policy: a global pandemic that resulted in our taxi drivers having hugely limited trade for around 18 months. 

The sensible move would be to delay the enforcement of these plans until June 2024 to allow our drivers to get back on their feet.

That was just one of the issues raised with me and my party colleagues on Friday.

Others from the private hire trade focused around time limits on vehicles which seem stricter in Glasgow than surrounding local authorities, issues regarding screens in the back of private hire cars and the SQA exam expected of drivers.

On Wednesday, I will sit on my first Licensing and Regulatory Committee. 

As a new member I plan on using my voice to stand up for the trade and back urgent policy changes that will best suit this vitally important sector in Glasgow.

For too long, licensing has been an issue that hasn’t been as sexy enough for local politicians to focus on. I want that to change.

We are at a crossroads in Glasgow where we can choose to back our cabbies or abandon them completely. 

I know that cross-party consensus can be built on these issues. 

Indeed, I want to praise councillor Alex Wilson, the SNP chair of licensing, who has been a vocal supporter of the trade and has been keen to find solutions for them. We need more councillors in the SNP administration willing to be like Alex.

If we do not get this right, I worry about what will happen to our city centre, which is already massively struggling.

If we drive our taxi and private hire drivers off the street, there will not only be implications for jobs and the economy, but on public safety, particularly for women as well.

I will use my voice at every opportunity to push the concerns raised by taxi and private hire drivers across Glasgow. 

Both the Glasgow Unite Union Cab Section and Scottish Private Hire Trade Association have been vital in raising these concerns over the past few years.

I thank them for taking the time to meet with myself, John and Graham and rest assured we are allies of them in their continued fight for their trade.