Rotherham taxi drivers are set to go on strike from tomorrow in protest at controversial new licensing laws being introduced in the wake of the child sexual exploitation scandal.
The Rotherham Hackney Carriage Association has told BBC Radio Sheffield its members will not be accepting jobs tomorrow.
Strike action is due to start from 6am tomorrow and one private hire driver told the BBC cabbies are considering ‘blockades of the town’ as part of their protest.
It follows a protest involving more than 100 drivers outside Rotherham Town Hall yesterday at council proposals to being in more stringent measures for being a driver.
The plans, due to come into force from next Monday, July 6, will see all drivers needing to install CCTV into their vehicles within three months.
Drivers say they are concerned at the potential costs of installing, maintaining and repairing the cameras, which the council say drivers should be able to hire for £5 per week or less.
The new proposals also include drivers needing to pass a ‘fit and proper person test’ to hold a licence, a requirement to have a BTEC qualification.
Vehicles will have to be less than five years old when applying for a new licence and less than 10 years old for renewed licenses.
The shake-up affecting 1,200 registered drivers comes after the Jay report revealed the ‘prominent role’ of Rotherham taxi drivers in the abuse of children, while the follow-up Casey inquiry said Rotherham Council needed to ‘get their house in order and regulate taxis effectively’ due to the ‘well-publicised link between taxis and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that has cast a long shadow over the vast majority of law-abiding drivers’.
Wajad Hussain, a private hire driver, told Radio Sheffield this morning that he is not opposed to the CCTV plan, but is worried about its potential costs.
He said the taxi industry in Rotherham is a ‘dying trade’, with many drivers struggling to break even.
Mr Hussain said: “It is a heavy-handed approach to penalise the drivers.
“They are using child sexual exploitation as a method to push through other policies through the back door.
“It is a way of scapegoating and it is shifting the blame on to taxi drivers.”