Plymouth taxi drivers threaten to quit over being forced to re-paint their cabs green and white

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Taxi drivers in Plymouth are calling on the council to reverse a controversial policy which would require them to re-paint their cabs to promote 'pride and professionalism'.

The change, which is part of a wide-ranging re-vamp of the city's rules for hackney carriages, could cost each cabbie between £1,500 and £2000.

That could be reclaimed as a business expense, but some they say they cannot afford the outlay with the rising price of fuel and other essentials.

This is how the newly-painted cabs could look. Credit: Plymouth City Council

John Beaumont, chair of the Plymouth Licensed Taxi Association, said: "I believe the driver should have a choice about what colour vehicle he buys.

"All the public look for is a tout light in the vehicle, that's all they need. Why do we need to change colour? We've had this for years."

Driver Roy Perrett said the change might force him to quit.

He said: "I would say 'There's your badge, there's your licence, bye-bye.' I think there would be a lot of other drivers doing the same."

Driver Roy Perrett says he might quit the job over the new rules. Credit: ITV News

The other rules coming into force soon include a requirement for taxis to take contactless card payments.

The council says more people are going cash free and expect to be able to pay by card, which is simpler and easier.

Taxi drivers are being given five years to re-spray their vehicles. Credit: ITV News

In a statement Plymouth City Council said: "We accept that the new livery is an expense for the trade at a time when it is facing other financial pressures which is why we now have a five year lead-in time for to comply with this requirement.

"The new livery is designed to give people confidence that they are hailing a properly licensed and approved cab.

"It will help make people – particularly women – feel safer to get a ride in a distinctively marked vehicle. The lighter colouring will also help with identification and support clearer CCTV images if required. Livery costs can be claimed as a business expense.

"More and more people are going cash free and expect to be able to pay by card. While there is an installation cost, thousands of other businesses have taken this route to make life simpler for them and their customers.

"Plymouth lost around 160 drivers over the pandemic and part of the refreshed policy has made it easier for taxi drivers to return by removing hoops they would have to jump through.

"We have also scrapped the limit on the number of hackney carriages Plymouth can have and hope to encourage more drivers to work in the evening and night time economy. The policy which we consulted on with the public as well as the trade was approved at Full Council in May with cross party support. It will come into effect on 1 May 2022."