TAXI drivers have called off a strike planned for tomorrow.
Cabbies intended to take industrial action to protest against a 62% hike in the licence fee renewal.
Drivers were due to strike between 6am tomorrow and 6am on Saturday.
But Amjad Nadeem, secretary of Kirklees Hackney Carriage Association, announced yesterday that the strike had been called off to prevent disruption to Bank Holiday weekend revellers.
He said: "About 250 Hackney carriage and private hire drivers met in Dewsbury on Tuesday night. The majority voted against striking because of the disruption it would cause on the Bank Holiday weekend."
The drivers plan to hold demonstrations against the Kirklees Council price hikes instead.
Mr Nadeem said: "We will hold a peaceful protest outside Huddersfield Town Hall on Wednesday and another outside Dewsbury Town Hall the following week."
But he added that taxi drivers could take industrial action in the future. Mr Nadeem said: "The drivers are still aggrieved about the situation. It’s quite possible there could be a strike at a later date."
Taxi drivers had initially threatened strike action after the council’s Cabinet decided on April 15 to increase licence fees.
The annual charge for driver licence renewal is up by 62% from £37 to £60. Licences for Hackney carriage cars will rise from £106 to £135 a year and for private hire cabs from £125 to £135. Private hire company’s operating licences will rocket from £53 a year to £380.
Taxi drivers’ representatives met councillors at Crown Court Buildings yesterday afternoon to try to thrash out a deal.
But Mr Nadeem said the meeting had ended without agreement. He said: "The council have refused to budge. They told us it’s a final decision and that’s that. They are not even prepared to listen."
However, licensing chief Clr Christine Iredale denied this.
She said: "The decision is not final. The consultation period doesn’t end until May 13 and then we will have a meeting of the Licensing and Safety Committee to discuss the fees."
Clr Iredale added she was happy the strike would not go ahead.
The Golcar Lib Dem said: "I’m pleased because there will be a lot of people going out this weekend who will want to use taxis. If the drivers want to protest then that’s their choice, but I think it’s premature."
Clr David Sheard said the licence fee increases were needed to make sure Kirklees taxis were safe.
The Cabinet member for transport said: "The new charges will mean that licence fees are much fairer and much more in line with what taxi drivers and taxi firm owners would expect to pay in other parts of West Yorkshire. They will enable us to offer a much safer taxi service for the public.
"Retaining the old charges would mean in effect that the tax payer was subsidising numerous private enterprises."