A trade body has called for a more “sympathetic” approach to private hire drivers who are struggling to meet Low Emission Zone requirements, after three licences were revoked.

The city’s licensing committee took action against four drivers whose vehicles did not comply with the standards at a meeting on Wednesday (August 23).

Eddie Grice, general secretary of the Scottish Private Hire Association (SPHA), said: “The current approach being taken by Glasgow licensing is frustrating.  “They are suspending the licences of these operators until they can put a compliant vehicle on the road, but at the same time the council is taking away their means of being able to build up the funds to do so.”

Unity Jackson, J Mac Cars and Cars 4 U 1 Ltd had private hire car licences revoked as their vehicles don’t meet the LEZ standards. They did not attend the licensing meeting.

Mohammed Yahyah’s licence was suspended for three months after he told the committee he was “looking for the right car on the right budget”.

He suggested it would take him six months to get a new vehicle but was told that was “excessive”.

Committee member Cllr Thomas Kerr, Conservative, recorded his dissent with the decisions to revoke licences.

He said the council had been “warned that their rushed Low Emission Zone plans would have a devastating impact on many working-class Glaswegians”.  “Yet they ignored it and went ahead anyway,” he said. “We’re now seeing the impact of that stubbornness, with private hire drivers losing their livelihoods during a global cost-of-living crisis.  “Unfortunately, the licensing committee’s hands are tied by the council leadership. It’s disgraceful.”

Mr Grice said the SPHA is “sympathetic to the struggles some drivers are facing in coming to compliance with the Low Emission Zone and we call on the authorities to do more to help ease the transition”.

He added a “more pragmatic and sympathetic approach is definitely needed here”.

Mr Grice also said: “We will soon find out the council’s decision on the SPHA’s campaign to increase the upper age limits of private hire cars and we, again, urge them to raise the limit to 10 years.  “Such a move will give breathing space and a lifeline to those drivers struggling to make the economic ends meet.”

Earlier this month, private hire driver Muhammad Raees was suspended after he told the committee he didn’t “have the funds” to make his vehicle compliant.

Cllr Alex Wilson, SNP, the licensing committee chairman, said he had “total sympathy” with the driver. He told the driver: “The suspension can be lifted once you are LEZ compliant.”

Enforcement of the LEZ began in June and, generally, diesel engine vehicles registered after September 2015 and petrol vehicles registered from 2006 onwards will meet the required LEZ standards.

A council spokesperson said: “The policy agreed by the Licensing Committee is that all vehicles licensed as a taxi or private hire should meet the emissions standards of the LEZ, subject to certain exemptions currently in place.
“The committee has shown flexibility where a licence holder has indicated they are seeking to secure a compliant vehicle.
“Licence holders who are substituting a non-compliant vehicle for one that meets LEZ standards can also continue with their existing licence.
“In the recent cases where licences were revoked, the licence holders declined to appear at two separate hearings to put forward any information about their situation to members of the committee.
“The overprovision cap on licensed vehicles, which indicates there is no unmet demand for hire vehicles unless there are fewer than 3450 private hire cars or 1420 taxis, remains in place.”
Cllr Kerr was on the committee when it agreed to amend the licensing policy to ensure all taxi and private hire vehicles would need to meet the LEZ emission standards by the end of May this year.