Taxi drivers' protest brings Bristol city centre to a standstill

  • Watch Max Walsh's report

Dozens of taxi drivers are gathering in Bristol and plan to gridlock the city centre with a slow-moving blockade protest.

They say they are unhappy about access to support during the pandemic, plans to move a popular taxi rank and the proposed Clean Air Zone.

Many drivers say the Additional Restrictions Grant given to the council by the Government, for self-employed people badly affected by coronavirus, has not been distributed fairly.

They say they were unable to make the first claim, missed the tight deadlines and have been left on the breadline as custom is still hugely down in the city centre.

Dozens of taxis gathered in the city centre to protest. Credit: ITV News

Last year, Bristol City Council closed the taxi rank at Bristol Hippodrome on St Augustine's Parade in The Centre, claiming it was unsafe.

A convoy protest followed the decision, after a number of drivers were fined for stopping there and picking up fares.

They also want exemption from the proposed Clean Air Zone which will mean the owners of all diesel vehicles and some older petrol vehicles will have to pay a charge for driving in or near the city centre.

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: "We have worked with the trade representatives to install an evening/late night rank with a new shelter and improved signage 50 meters away from the Hippodrome.

"A new larger rank with shelter and signage opposite the Cenotaph has also been installed. However, we have been clear that the concerns for public safety and congestion issues outside the Hippodrome make it an unsafe location for a taxi rank.

"Proposals to support those with non-compliant vehicles are included as part of our Clean Air Zone Full Business Case, including help for taxi drivers to upgrade vehicles that don’t meet emissions standards.

"We will share more information about exemptions and the financial support that will be in place to help people switch to a cleaner vehicles once our business case is approved.”

Additional points from Bristol City Council:

  • There were initial delays in sending out some ARG payments, but all those eligible were paid, with the scheme promoted widely to all eligible businesses, sole traders and self-employed for the same period.

  • It was not possible to backdate grant payments, which applies to all businesses.

  • Those who applied for the first round of ARG in November will be eligible for two payments (£1000 + £1686) and those who applied under the second round (just closed) eligible for one payment of £1686.

  • Applications to the Discretionary grant are currently closed. We are working through the latest applications and assessing these against the scheme criteria. We anticipate there will be some remaining funds at the end of this process. If funds remain, it is our intention to distribute these as fairly as possible across all ARG applicants.

Read more: