Minicab drivers have threatened to bring Birmingham to a standstill this summer over a 25 per cent hike in licensing fees.
Private hire operators are warning one-day strike could also take place in a row over a rise in the annual vehicle and driver licence fees charged by Birmingham City Council.
The warnings of industrial action came as more than 250 private hire operators descended upon the council licensing department in Rocky Lane, Aston, on Tuesday morning.
Hakil Ahmed, joint chair of Birmingham Private Hire Drivers’ Group, which represents around 500 drivers, said: “All the council is concerned about is making the rules up as they go along. But there are things we can do try to make them change their mind.
‘‘We’ve got a go-slow demonstration through Birmingham planned for June 1 and we can also do a withdrawal of service to show how essential our services are to the community.”
The city council has defended the fee rise – from £380 to £478 for a new one-year licence – saying they were cheaper than, or similar to, charges in other major cities and boroughs.
The fee for renewal licences, which affects existing cabbies, has also increased from £190 to £240.
A spokesman for the Private Hire Association, which represents around 2,200 drivers, said it was in “ongoing” talks with the council.
But among those threatening industrial action yesterday was dad-of-five Javed Khan, aged 45 and from Sparkbrook, who has been a driver for around 20 years. He said: “We’re all very upset about this rise as there’s been no consultation with drivers. Going on strike won’t be easy for us because this is our living, but we’ve got to get to the bottom of this issue.”
A city council spokesman said the authority’s renewal cost was rising by just £1 per-driver per-week.
“Compared to other expenses drivers incur, such as radio hire, fuel, insurance and vehicle servicing, this still represents a very small proportion of their total expenses,” he said.
“All money gathered through licence fees is invested directly back into the service. This rise is necessary partly due to fees having been artificially frozen or increased only marginally over the past five years, and therefore not covering costs.”