Birmingham’s licensing chief has vowed to consider the views of every minicab driver and every customer in drawing up new industry guidelines.
Coun David Osborne, the chairman of the licensing committee, faced a barrage of questions from fellow councillors over the chaos which last week saw hundreds of private hire drivers locked out of a meeting at Villa Park.
But he slammed a majority of the city’s 100 cab firms who failed to take part in consultation at an earlier stage and led officials to believe one or two sessions at the Holte Suite at Villa Park would be adequate.
The controversial proposals under consideration include phasing in a single colour for all cabs, perhaps white or silver, a knowledge test, MoT tests twice a year and an eight-year age limit on cars.
Coun Osbourne (Lib Dem, Acocks Green) said: “We invited all the operators in Birmingham, there are about 100, to a meeting and provided enough room for all of them. About 20 turned up.”
He added private consultants SRA, paid £24,000 to talk to drivers, also sent out details to the cab firms and received only 11 replies. “We now realise they should have written direct to the drivers,” he added.
“Given that turnout we booked the Holte Suite. When it became clear there was likely to be more demand, we decided to split the meeting into two sessions. But the police decided that the second meeting should not go ahead.”
The chairman repeated an apology which has now been sent to all drivers and said full consultation would continue. “We know the issues, but we do not have the solutions. We will talk to everyone involved, whether it takes six weeks, six months or longer.”
But he refused a demand from Labour Coun Ansar Ali Khan (Washwood Heath) for a public inquiry saying that the best thing for all involved would be to move on with consultation.