A TAXI driver has said LEZ has brought an end to nearly 70-year family cab tradition.

Calum Anderson, a Glasgow cabbie, has said the Glasgow City Council initiative will force him to hand over a plate that was used by his father since the 1950s and himself for the last three decades.

It comes as 269 cabs will be taken off the road from June 1 as the deadline for the LEZ time-limited extension for taxi drivers comes to an end.

Glasgow Times:

Speaking to the Glasgow Times, the 57-year-old said: “The taxi plate was my dad’s before it was mine.

“He was driving taxis since the 50s and I came into the trade at 21 years old.

“This is such a frustrating process, and I just don’t think the council cares. There was no need for any of this.

“And this is not taxi drivers being miserable, it is just not viable to do any of this and it is putting a lot of mental stress on us.

“I thought I would drive my taxi until I had to retire, but that’s not the case anymore.”

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With the number of plates disappearing from our roads, Calum, who is chairman of the Glasgow cab section for Unite the Union, added that he is concerned that Glaswegians will be put in more vulnerable situations.

He continued: “Black cabs are essential to the city.

“We have a knowledge of the city, and we are essential for inclusive living as we take wheelchairs and even guide dogs. So, if we are gone, what does that mean for those with disabilities trying to get home?

“And people who can’t get taxis will just start walking home instead and it puts them in a vulnerable position that they never should have been in in the first place. That’s worrying for us.

“It is an issue and total disregard for the taxi trade by the council.”

Calum also believes the initiative will damage the city further than it “already is.”

He said: “The council have let the city die in an attempt to save the planet.

“They have destroyed this city, and it is an embarrassment and absolutely demoralising.

“Taxis are going to be off the road, more shops will close.

“I tell you; I’ve been driving a taxi now for about 37 years and I’ve never bought into this idea that the city is finished, but I do now.”

Calum went on to say that he has been left disgusted with how many people, like him, will lose their livelihoods as the extension period comes to an end.  

Glasgow Times:

Michael Smith has been a cabbie for the last 28 years.

The 59-year-old told the Glasgow Times of his hurt and anger as he said he has been forced off the roads by the council.

He said: “I’m very sad but I’m very angry as well.

“I thought I would retire at 66 or 67, or I would die behind the wheel of my cab. I never imagined I would be leaving like this.

“Glasgow City Council have pushed us into a corner, and we have been treated like s***.

“We want to breathe clean air, but we don’t want to go out of business to get it.

“It’s absolutely awful. It’s been very stressful for everyone.”

It comes after Michael was faced with either trying to find the funds to put an LPG engine into his 15-year-old vehicle or leaving the trade behind.

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Following the financial hardships Covid brought upon taxi drivers, Michael decided that replacing his engine was not a viable option.

He has since sold his taxi, for which he got £800 in return.

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Michael explained: “I came out of the pandemic having worked 60 hours a week for about £30 a day. I was buying food and paying bills on a credit card – which meant my credit score just went right down.

“I think I came out of Covid about £10k in debt.

“We’ve been told a lot by both the council and the public that we’ve known the LEZs were going to happen and that we had plenty of time to sort a plan.

“But we didn’t know Covid was going to happen.

“Before Covid, if you had a seven-year plan it became more like nine years. It brought us more hardships than ever before.

“Covid didn’t make us stand still, it completely pushed us back.”

Glasgow Times:

Calum agreed, saying: “We had no wages for two years because of Covid and I tried saying to the council, could you imagine returning to work and being told you have to go and buy a brand-new taxi that complies with some new initiative? It is simply not doable.

“We were hit so hard in Covid.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “Poor air quality presents a serious risk to public health and so the LEZ is an essential measure if Glasgow is to tackle the harmful air pollution that has blighted parts of the city centre for decades.

“Glasgow’s LEZ has been well publicised and had an extensive lead-in time. And at every stage since the intention to introduce a scheme was agreed, we have engaged with operators and their representatives to support the taxi sector move toward compliance.

"We have consistently encouraged eligible operators to take advantage of Scottish Government funding toward cleaner, new vehicles, or to retrofit existing vehicles - with £2.4 million paid in retrofit grants since 2019 for taxis in our region. We also amended licensing conditions to expand the options available to operators of taxis which could not be retrofitted due to vehicle age.

“Eligible operators were also granted an exemption from the scheme’s first year of operation, and we will show further flexibilities beyond this point, but only 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.”

Glasgow Times:

In respect of life in the city centre, a spokesperson added: "Last year the city centre received an estimated 50 million visitors and remains at the heart of the civic, cultural and economic life of Glasgow.

"The city centre has recently experienced record levels of inward investment and plans for the city centre aim to create a positive environment for visitors, businesses and a growing residential population.

“A significant majority of people use public transport to access the city and only a small minority of vehicles are affected by LEZ air quality standards."