A Glasgow taxi driver has said applying for funding to make his cab LEZ compliant has been ‘like hitting his head off a brick wall’.

Joseph Lafferty, 64, has been a cabbie in the city for just over 23 years – making a living and serving the public.

But the Parkhead man has found that the process to get his cab retrofitted to become a Euro six engine (as per the Euro 6/VI engine required for diesel vehicles and Euro 4/IV for petrol vehicles to drive through LEZ zone in the city) has been lengthy and onerous.

Glasgow Times:

It comes as taxi drivers have been tasked with either paying out the full amount up-front for the retrofit, which usually costs between £6,000 and £15,000 or applying for the low emission zone (LEZ) retrofit fund which is provided by Transport Scotland and delivered by Energy Saving Trust, which can help towards costs.

Having claimed he began the application process back in January, Joseph’s application was only officially accepted this month – just weeks before the June 1 deadline for the time-limited extension for taxi drivers.

Glasgow Times:

Joseph told the Glasgow Times: “The process has felt like hitting my head off a brick wall. It’s been a nightmare.

“I feel like I’m one guy trying to fight a big body and I am just up against it.

“I am just a guy trying to earn a living and support my family.

“With the Energy Saving Trust, the process has been like jumping hurdles. I’m not very literate with the computer, so my pal has had to help me with all the documents and that’s caused a lot of issues for EST.

“I phoned them and asked if I could sit there with someone and sort it out because I was really anxious, I wouldn’t meet the deadline because they had absolutely no urgency, it was threatening my livelihood.

“I just want to make a living and serve the public, I don’t think I’m expecting a lot, I’m not asking for the world.”

Energy Saving Trust have said they have been left concerned by customers’ ill experience with the application process.

A spokesperson said: "Our advisors remain in regular contact with applicants throughout the application process and ensure that the high volume of eligible candidates we work with are served.

“While we're not able to comment on individual cases, it’s concerning to hear of any applicant that doesn’t feel happy with their customer experience. We are committed to maintaining our due diligence commitments and would encourage any applicant who feels this way to get in touch with us via lezfund@est.org.uk so that we can resolve any outstanding issues as quickly as possible".

Glasgow Times:

Aside from problems with the application process with EST, Joseph also believes issues come down to two other things; the fact that grants are given on a first come, first serve basis and that there are time limits on applying for the grant.

He added: “The point in the extensions was to give us more time to find the money for the grant, and they are introducing time limits which just don’t work.

“I don’t see why they can’t give us time to get our savings together.
“They have to remember that we didn’t earn money in Covid, and we’ve been trying to build up since then. Now we have this threat, and it is unfair.

“Everyone wants clean air, of course we do, but the infrastructure to enforce that has to be perfect, and it just isn’t.”

Joseph claims he has consistently complied with LEZ after making his vehicle a Euro 4 exhaust and then purchasing a new cab at £15k to make his vehicle Euro 5.

He added: “I went into debt to help  Glasgow City Council and the LEZ – they ought to hang their heads in shame because putting this pressure on taxi drivers is just shocking.”

Glasgow Times:

Joseph has now managed to get his grant accepted and has until October to have his vehicle retrofitted in England – as only one place in Glasgow offers the service and it is only to vans – something that Joseph also pointed out as problematic.

However, with the backlogs to get retrofits, Joseph still believes his livelihood is under threat.

Conservative councillor, John Daly, who has been working closely with Joseph, said the cabbie has been left very distressed throughout the process.

He continued: “It’s been weeks and weeks of Joseph speaking to departments in Glasgow City Council and the Energy Saving Trust, which has been weeks and weeks and months of worry for him.

“He has five months to pay a £1,000 deposit and get retrofitted, he’s sort of being put through the mill here and we’re hearing tales like this across the city.

“He is willing to comply with legislation and has consistently proven that yet he has found himself on the rough side.

“Of course, clean air is important but well-meaning legislation should not have a bad impact.”

Glasgow Times:

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council, said: “After receiving confirmation from Energy Saving Trust on Wednesday that Mr Lafferty’s grant application had been approved, we contacted him that same day to advise that his LEZ exemption would be extended until the end of October.

“Mr Lafferty’s previous award application had expired in line with its terms and conditions, however his new application which was submitted to Energy Saving Trust on 7 May, was successful.
 "We have consistently encouraged eligible operators to take advantage of Scottish Government funding toward cleaner, new vehicles, or to retrofit existing vehicles - with £2.4m paid in retrofit grants since 2019 for taxis in our region.
 “Eligible operators were also granted an exemption from the scheme’s first year of operation, and we will show further flexibilities beyond this point for operators who can show they are actively taking steps to meet the cleaner LEZ standards.
 “To equitably balance the health and environmental benefits of Glasgow’s LEZ, whilst continuing to support taxi operators, where an exemption is extended beyond the end of May, it will be for the shortest period possible.”