Newcastle City Council aiming to introduce Congestion Charge in 2019 - £12.50 per day.

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Problem

  • Do you want to pay Newcastle City Council £9/£12.50 per DAY to enter a congestion charge area within the boundaries of the City centre?

Of course, you don't. However, the reality is much closer than you may think. Newcastle Hackney Taxi drivers received a letter from Newcastle City Council on 4th December 2018 from Newcastle Councillor Arlene Ainsley (Cabinet member: Transport and Air Quality). This letter informed drivers and Proprietors that Newcastle plans to submit proposals to the Government at the earliest opportunity and then have an early consultation in 2019 to info the public of the proposals. Similar cities such as Leeds, Bath, Southampton and Sheffield have already released plans to charge Hackney Taxis and Private Hire vehicles within their congestion charge zone - this topic must have been on Newcastle City Councils radar for some time and we seem to be in the final stages of rubber stamping.

What does this mean to you? If you enter the City Centre by vehicle we have been informed you will pay between £9/£12.50 per DAY. Bus companies will also be charged for entering the congestion charge area too but this will be at a greater rate. This will mean it's extremely likely there will be an increase in bus fares. Taxi and Private Hire vehicles will also pay the congestion charge - drivers who are already struggling to make a living in Newcastle will then be expected to pay a further £350+ per MONTH.  This cannot be justified and fares will increase. The public will, therefore, pay for the increase in fares. Lorries will also be charged at much higher rate. This means an increase in food supplies costs meaning the public pay more. Newcastle Council has had this planned for some time. Roads such as Durant Road being made into cycle lanes, previous roads changed to Bus lanes only. Roads being closed to all traffic except buses next to The Gate (Newgate Street area), Blackett Street being closed to all traffic except Buses, ANPR cameras being used inside key areas of the City, and Traffic violation cameras being used in areas such as Durant Road actually increases traffic leaving the main NCP car park and can gridlock this area extremely easily. The Traffic violation camera positioned at Swan House roundabout leading to the Tyne Bridge also gridlocks the City at peak times. If Newcastle wanted to disrupt and cause carnage within their boundaries, they are doing a great job with that. Traffic does not flow which increases emissions and poor air quality. The Transport department are to blame not the public.

What can you do? You can start by signing the petition. Please also inform your friends via What's App, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can contact Newcastle City Council at transport@newcastle.gov.uk and express your views. If you currently drive your vehicle into the City centre, work out how much this will impact your finances. If you don't, work out who will benefit greatly from this - I'll give you a hint (it's not you).

"But it's good for the environment, we should pay for our mistakes", I hear you shout. If Newcastle really believes this is an environmental problem can they please answer two very simple questions?

1. Why did you cut down over 8000 trees in less than 3 years? Newcastle felled the highest amount of trees of any council in the UK. https://amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/03/newcastle-fells-more-trees-than-any-other-uk-council   We all know trees are extremely good for improving good air quality as they absorb carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide-releasing oxygen. They are required for a clean air environment. Could Newcastle City Council not foresee what the drastic effect would have? Newcastle City Council were informed of what could happen if they carried on felling trees but continued anyway. Why?

2. Why did Newcastle City Council stop the locality test for any application to receive a Private Hire (Taxi) driver Licence? This occurred at the same time period Uber applied for a licence to operate in Newcastle upon Tyne. Coincidence?  For an unacceptable period of time, Newcastle City Council stopped all locality tests and anyone with a driving licence could receive a Private Hire Licence Badge! What other industry allows this? This was obviously going to be taken advantage of and an increase of over 1500 new drivers have now received their Newcastle Private Hire Licence Badge. (Many of these drivers are called "Satnav" drivers as they have not completed a locality test). This has therefore placed a further 1500 vehicles inside the boundaries of Newcastle. Could Newcastle Council not foresee this? Did Arlene Ainsley (Cabinet member: Transport and Air Quality) not object to these proposals at the time? It was obvious this would happen. Newcastle is such a small city it does not justify so many Private Hire vehicles. Did you know that Newcastle City Council also subsidises the Privately owned Bus Companies in their boundaries? Nexus is subsidised and get huge contributions from Newcastle City Council. Taxi and Private Hire drivers who are sole traders get no financial help from Newcastle City Council.

*Newcastle City Council have now introduced a new style interview for new applicants for the Private Hire licence. However, the damage is done to the Taxi/Private Hire industry.

Vehicles which would allow drivers to drive within a congestion charge area are extremely expensive and some emission free wheelchair accessible vehicles are over £50,000. The Taxi/Private Hire industry cannot justify paying ridiculous amounts for emission-free vehicles – even if Newcastle decide to subsidise this.

This needs to stop. Newcastle City Council couldn't see common sense three years ago when they decided to start felling 8000 trees. They couldn't work out that stopping the locality test for new Private Hire applicants would introduce more vehicles into their boundary. Or could they? Has Newcastle done this deliberately to increase air pollution, to then introduce the obscene congestion charge?

Sign the petition now! Inform your friends as soon as you sign. Stand up and fight against the injustice of the introduction of the congestion charge NOW.

You’ve been warned. Do something about it before it’s too late.


Personal story
The Newcastle Hackney Carriage Drivers Association has come together to challenge issues and improve our trade. Please visit www.newcastlecitytaxis.com for more details.
Congestion charges will not just affect our trade. Please sign the petition.