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BAME private hire drivers hit hard by Khan policies

PICTURED: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

WITH JUST over a year to go until the next Mayoral election, Sadiq Khan’s style of politics is becoming clearer by the day. The Mayor combines high spending on PR and spin with a penchant for badly thought through and gimmicky policies. When these policies inevitably unravel, Khan will double down, go on the offensive and smear his opponents.

The latest flawed policy that this Mayor is rushing out is the removal of the congestion charge exemption for private hire drivers. As it stands at present, private hire drivers do not have to pay the congestion charge when they drive into central London, but from April 8 they will no longer be exempt from the daily £11.50 rate. If a PHV driver makes five journeys into central London each week that would end up costing them almost £60 a week or £240 a month.

He has already been warned that this policy would result in job losses, unemployment and small family businesses going bankrupt. Drivers within the industry have called it a racist policy as this charge is being imposed on a largely BAME workforce, while those driving traditional black cabs - who are 80 percent white - continue to be exempt.

94 percent of PHV drivers are from black and other minority ethnic backgrounds, as TfL’s own figures show. In their report, Changes to the Congestion Charge, TfL acknowledge that this policy will have a “disproportionate impact” on those from BAME backgrounds and deprived areas.

Owing to his refusal to listen and plough on regardless, drivers have had no choice but to take legal action against Sadiq Khan. Khan said he would be the most pro-business Mayor ever, but now he is being hauled to the courts by hard-working drivers because they believe he is racially discriminating against them. The Mayor’s assault on the PHV industry has been nothing short of shameful; he has consistently fleeced the industry in order to pay for his own mismanagement of TfL’s finances. These proposals come after he has already hiked minicab operator’s fees by around 1000% in some cases.

This comes on top of the worrying lack of equality and diversity at TfL, which Sadiq Khan chairs. TFL’s ethnicity pay gap increased in the last year, with white TfL staff now being paid 10 percent more than their BAME colleagues. As for London Underground, only 10 percent of senior managers are BAME, compared to around 40 percent of all Londoners.

It is not too late for the Mayor to step in and stop these ill-thought-through charges from damaging the livelihoods of tens of thousands of black and minority ethnic Londoners. Unfortunately, from what we know of this Mayor, I do not have much hope.

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