FEARS have been raised that taxi and private hire vehicle drivers from Leeds could be unfairly penalised under a proposed Clean Air Charging Zone for the city.
Leeds City Council’s Conservative Group leader Coun Andrew Carter has called for the Government to set up register of all taxis and private hire vehicles.
He made the comments as proposals for a Clean Air Charging Zone – which would tax high-emission buses, HGVs and taxis in the city – were put before Leeds City Council’s Executive Committee.
Coun Carter said: “I am very concerned that it seems to me to be essential that the Government needs to come up with a register for taxis and private hire vehicles.
“It would be very easy for private hire vehicles to drive in through our charging zone and not be charged, where a vehicle from Leeds can travel elsewhere and will be charged. This is unacceptable and unsustainable.
“We will be writing to secretary of state Michael Gove urging him to make it happen sooner rather than later.”
Following the meeting, Zahid Mahmood, vice chair of Leeds Private Hire Drivers Organisation, said: “They need to build a database of drivers. We don’t want to see drivers with ten-year-old cars from Bradford being exempt from the clean air charge when drivers from Leeds will have to pay it.”
Coun James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council, told the meeting: “I don’t think anyone would argue against doing this work, and in the directive we are under we have to work very quickly.
“There will be a report next month looking at the additional measures around the areas of illegal air quality to improve it.
“In addition to the charging zone, we are looking at things that we can encourage the take-up of low emission vehicles, working with the government on Highways England roads, such as the M62 through Leeds.”
He added that the council has ambitions to set up a scrappage scheme for high-emission vehicles.
The scheme would see high-emission HGVs and buses being charged £50 a day, while taxis and private hire vehicles registered in the city would pay £50 a week.
It is hoped that the measures will encourage motorists using the city centre to drive modern, greener vehicles – which would not be charged.