WITH the introduction of low-emission zones in other Scottish cities over the last week, it serves as a timely reminder to highlight the concerns the Glasgow Conservatives have repeatedly raised about the rollout of the LEZ in our city.

While we welcomed the plans in principle as we all want to improve our air quality, the SNP’s implementation has been typically shambolic.

Despite spending hefty sums on promoting the scheme, many drivers whether they live in the city or are visiting have fallen foul of the rules and the council has raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last year in fines.

To hear some SNP councillors crowing about this sum – despite failing to fight for a fair funding deal for our council from their bosses in Edinburgh – means it is little wonder that many are sceptical about the council’s true intentions for this scheme.

Alongside my Conservative colleague Thomas Kerr, we have continually raised the concerns of Glasgow’s famous black taxi trade, which has found the transition period laid out by the SNP-led council administration difficult.

Whether it is a lack of supply of taxis for sale elsewhere or the lack of premises to be able to retrofit existing vehicles, in addition to problems with the grant applications, taxi operators were keen for more time to deal with the LEZ.

That is not the sign of a stubborn or unwilling partner, it is one that is still feeling the effects of the pandemic, which took a huge chunk of the lead-in time that the council says it gave taxi operators.

Despite what the SNP and the Greens say about their plans, there can be no doubt that they have failed to listen to the concerns of the taxi trade. That has led to a situation whereas of last week 269 cabs were said to be non-compliant of LEZ rules and as a result should be deemed to be in breach of their licence.

Just think about that. Nearly 300 cabs, a fixture of Glasgow streets for decades and a vital lifeline for wheelchair users and young families as well as a safe and secure way home for our young people after enjoying our city nightlife.

I’ve been dealing with complaints from cab-owning constituents for the last two years and I leave you with the words of one of them in an email to me this weekend. His words speak volumes about the loss to our city and why this tin-eared, ideologically driven SNP/Green administration has let it down … yet again.

He said: “I’ve been a proud taxi driver most of my adult life, I struggled to stay in business through the pandemic (whilst incurring debt), only to be forced out of business by an ideology fixated SNP/Green administration – and now I’ve a legacy of debt repayment for a business that no longer exists.

“This could have been managed so much better just as it is being in Manchester, where they chose practicality over an ideology that is costing jobs and damaging our city. I’m sad and disgusted!

“I have now borrowed to invest and am operating a taxi out of Glasgow, despite the additional debt I am managing to earn a less stressful living.

“I was happy to invest in my city, be given time and support to buy a fit-for-purpose cab but the support was not forthcoming and instead we were placed under constant targeted pressure and unacceptable deadlines.

“These 400 plus small businesses lost to the city were not merely taxi drivers, they were iconic ambassadors to everyone who passed through, and small tourist information hubs; the impact of their loss will be sorely felt in time.”