Fears for women's safety raised over lack of taxis in city

The council has recently turned down almost 100 applications for private hire licences.

Fears for women’s safety raised over lack of taxis in Glasgow by private hire drivers Georgeclerk

Women’s safety is being put at risk through a lack of private hire drivers, with one former Uber driver warning passengers are having to wait up to two hours for a lift home during peak travel times.

Glasgow City Council has recently turned down almost 100 applications for private hire licences, telling applicants that the city had reached its agreed-upon limit.

Among them was Wajid Khalil who had previously been granted a temporary licence to operate a private hire car licence for Uber before receiving a letter stating it could be renewed up to nine months before it expired.

In May earlier this year his application was denied despite claims he invested in a car costing between £25,000 and £30,000 that was compliant with the council’s low emission standards. 

Mr Khalil, who says he feels “betrayed” by the city council, said there are about 20 to 25 drivers in the same position as him whose families will be affected because of this “clerical” error.

And he warned that the safety of Glaswegians trying to get home is now at risk because of the lack of vehicles operating on the roads. 

The local authority’s overprovision policy, which was introduced to try and help cut emissions, doesn’t allow more than 3,450 private hire car licences operating in Glasgow at one time.

Mr Khalil said: “Last year I applied for a temporary licence for one year.

“A friend and I phoned the council who told us at the time that the temporary licence was granted for one year and is renewable. We were also sent a letter that said the licence was renewable. There was no mention of having to apply for a three year licence.

“I wasn’t expecting to be called to the committee and then be refused my licence. 

“We feel deceived and betrayed by the council to be honest because we have spent thousands of pounds buying a car that complies with the low emission zone. 

“If they don’t want to grant us the licence, they should tell us beforehand instead of losing £20,000. I don’t understand why they can’t renew the licence but refuse it instead.”

Mr Khalil who had been working as a private hire car driver for six years says the over provision limit means that customers sometimes struggle to get a car home during the busy times.

He continued: “There are still times during the week when it is really busy. When you pick up a customer on Saturday night, for example, they often complain that they have been waiting for an hour.

“If there is something big going on in the city, like an event or concert happening at Hampden and the Hydro on the same night, people can often wait up to two hours for a car home. 

“This is a disaster for people wanting to get home. This impacts people’s safety, especially for a young girl on her own.

“If it is a cold night, it is hard to stand and wait for a lift home at the side of the road. People have complained about the waiting time.

“Last week, the Foo Fighters were playing at Hampden. The same thing happened and people were waiting for up to two hours for an Uber to take them home. 

“Some people ended up walking home because they were not able to get a taxi. 

“I was refused my licence on May 29. By the end of the week I will be jobless and not work for Uber anymore.”

A number of other drivers have contacted the local democracy service with similar concerns. They too state they were not informed they had to apply for a full term licence.

A letter they received from council states: “If you wish to continue operating beyond the expiry date, you must lodge a further application to renew your licence.

“This application can be lodged up to nine months before the licence expires. It is your responsibility to ensure that your licence is renewed.”

Kashif Rehman, who is in the same position also spent more than £20,000 on a car after being granted a temporary licence for 12 months, says he wouldn’t have made the investment if he had known he wouldn’t be able to renew his licence. 

Mr Rehman says he is in a very difficult situation financially as a result.

He said: “When we applied for the licence, I spoke to someone at the council’s licensing department. She said the temporary licence lasted a year then could be renewed for three years.

“I then applied for the renewal and it was rejected.

“I have a family of five and I am the only one earning but now I cannot drive and I am sitting at home with no income. 

“I understand there is an over provision limit of 3,450 but the number on my licence is within that so does that mean they are going to give my licence to someone else.

“I think there are between 20 and 30 people out there in the same position as me whose application has been refused. 

“I bought a car for just over £23,000 so if I had known it wasn’t going to be renewed I would just have kept working in the rented car.

“Now we are all screwed as we all have a car under finance. I am worried about where my income is going to come from and how I am going to pay the bills.

“There is no one here to help us.”

Ali Raza Afzal, another driver impacted by the over provision policy added: “I also got a letter saying you need to apply for a renewal rather than a grant.

“Now they are saying that was a temporary licence that should not have been extended which we were advised at a licensing meeting.

“There has been a very bad breakdown in communication from the council. I don’t know what is going on with them.”

Glasgow City Council said it could not comment on licence applications as drivers had the right to appeal, but insisted there had been no reduction in private hire cars in the city.

They added that the over provision policy was regularly reviewed and had been increased on April 23 to 3,450 – a figure which had now been reached.

A council spokeswoman said: “There has been no reduction in the number of private hire licences administered by Glasgow’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee, in fact, the limit on the number of licences available in the city was increased in April 2023 and all have since been taken up.”

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