Jim Cunningham MP and Cllr Jayne Innes were accompanied by Unite Trade Union Official Alan Lewis. They met with Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for City Environment Cllr Steve Evans, and Chair of Licensing Committee Cllr Alan Bolshaw. Officers working in Wolverhampton's Taxi Licensing Office were also present.
"I think everyone in Coventry now knows that Uber is not licensed to operate taxis here in Coventry. Here in Coventry we have black cabs, a gold standard delivering the very best taxi service for local people, in addition to being a powerful symbol of our nation.
"Here in Coventry we place tight rules and regulations on our taxi drivers. We require them to have excellent local knowledge, good standards of English, to undergo disabilities and child sexual exploitation training, and to have their vehicles checked on a 6 monthly basis. It goes without saying they also need to be DBS cleared.
"Our taxi licensing process is based on repeated face-to-face contact. This is one of the ways we differ from Wolverhampton, where there is only the need for one face-to-face meeting between the Council and each driver. In Wolverhampton most of the application process takes place online, and it is possible for a new taxi driver to be taking fares just 2 weeks after first accessing the website.
"I am fighting for safe professional taxis here in Coventry. It is frustrating that taxi law has not kept pace with technological advances. It is now possible for customers to use a phone app for taxi bookings, and this means taxi drivers can effectively adopt a 'flag of convenience' to operate outside the rules. This places drivers who play by the rules at a disadvantage.
"I'm delighted Coventry MP Jim Cunningham is working hard on behalf of Coventry's taxi customers and taxi drivers to lobby Government to change the law.
"The meeting was pretty frank at points, and lasted 2 hours. Wolverhampton City Council admitted that they license 241 taxi drivers with addresses in Coventry. And they acknowledge these drivers work in the Coventry area, and not Wolverhampton.
"As Wolverhampton is granting licenses to taxi drivers that it will be up to Coventry City Council to manage on a day-to-day basis, the fees paid by Coventry taxi drivers are essentially subsidising Wolverhampton's taxi office.
"I explained this subsidy is not acceptable, and Wolverhampton City Council has agreed to provide enforcement of Wolverhampton-licensed taxis in Coventry.
"Wolverhampton City Council has also agreed to contact their Coventry-based taxi drivers with any messages Coventry City Council needs to communicate. We need to issue messages to local drivers on a variety of occasions through the year, e.g. when there is a big event in the city, or when there are major road works.
"Wolverhampton Council has also agreed to ask Coventry-based applicants to consider choosing to license in Coventry instead" concluded Jayne.