A TOP councillor has called on taxi drivers to negotiate rather than strike.
Cabbies look set to take industrial action against a new penalty system which would see them receive points for things like refusing to take a fare; failing to wear a driver’s badge and eating in their taxi.
Any driver who collected 12 points within a year would have their licence reviewed.
Two hundred cabbies met in Huddersfield on Monday evening and voted to take action against the penalty points system – either a protest or a strike.
But the council’s Licensing and Safety Committee chairman Clr Christine Iredale yesterday called for negotiation.
“The committee has decided that the penalty points system will begin on January 1, 2012, but the number of points given to each offence has not been decided,” she said.
Kirklees officers have drawn up a proposed system which includes nine points for illegally plying for hire; six points for carrying an offensive weapon and four points for unreasonably prolonging a journey.
But the details will be finalised by a three-strong panel of Kirkburton Conservative Clr Adrian Murphy, Dalton Lib Dem Clr Rochelle Parchment and Heckmondwike Labour man Clr Steve Hall.
Clr Iredale said: “Taxi drivers will be invited to meet the panel and their input will be important.
“The only people affected by a strike will be the drivers themselves.”
The private hire and Hackney carriage drivers met at the Muslim Community Centre in Clare Hill on Monday.
They believe it is unfair to be subjected to two penalty points regimes.
But Clr Iredale said: “The people who do the job well have nothing to worry about.
“We have every right to be more vigilant when fare-paying passengers are involved.
“Passengers have the right to expect a good, safe driver. Someone who is talking on their mobile or eating a sandwich is not concentrating on the road.”
The new penalty points system will apply to the 2,500 private hire cabbies and 260 Hackney carriage drivers in Kirklees.
However, it will be policed by just six licensing enforcement officers.
Clr Iredale said: “I don’t know whether that’s enough people, but it’s going to have to be enough.
“Every department of the council needs more people.”
Drivers will decide what action to take against the system after a second mass meeting in Dewsbury next week.