A TAXI DRIVER was ejected from a Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) meeting after councillors clashed with license holders over controversial changes to taxi regulations.

Despite interruptions from members of the audience, councillors agreed to defer proposed changes to taxi regulations in order to set up a ‘working party’, which will gain insights and opinions from taxi drivers in order to re-consider the practicality of new regulations.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Abdul Loyes told the News: “I am very pleased (with the deferral) and I was one of the people who proposed to the Deputy Chairman to go ahead with the implementation (of the working party).

“We will have input from drivers. They would like their input on it and we welcome them to do so.”

Taxi drivers were opposed to new regulations which would have changed how much light windows should transmit, changes in the length of time between licenses being granted from 15 to 10 years, and most controversially for the drivers, changes to the space vehicles should have to accomodate wheelchair-using passengers.

A WBC officer’s admission that the suggested amount of space for wheelchair users had come from regulations used in the Republic of Ireland let drivers reeling as they claimed the council should be looking at regulations used closer to the borough.

During the discussions, Cllr Lindsay Ferris claimed: “We need representations from taxi drivers as they are the ones who know what is practical.”

When the committee was called to vote it was agreed unanimously that the vote should be deferred in order to form a working party.

After the meeting, Imran Hussain, who was ejected earlier on, told the News: “I’m finally glad to see that the councillors have seen sense and the adjournment is good for us so we can have a pause in thinking.

“Unfortunately their vision is absent and formulating a working group to have input on policy and this research is a good idea and it is more than welcomed.”

Prior to the meeting letters sent by Wokingham borough license holders to WBC were furious at the proposed changes.

One driver claimed he had “never been more concerned and disillusioned with the carry-on at Wokingham Borough Council”.

Another licence holder wrote that the changes to the time between licensings would affect taxi drivers over the age of 55 as it would be an “unfair burden” for them to “spend their life savings” on a new car when nearing the retiring age.

A letter produced ‘for and behalf of All Wokingham Hackney Carriage Drivers’ also claimed that “wheelchair users never come to the rank to get a taxi” and invited the committee to observe this.

However prior to the meeting, WBC claimed these proposals would be necessary because “it is good practice to keep policies under review and where necessary update them so they better reflect the present need within the local area.”

The committee is set to meet again in September to discuss the results from the working party.