VIDEO: Taxi driver strike causes chaos in town centre

A cab driver was assaulted during a strike by hundreds of taxi drivers which caused chaos in Wakefield city centre.

Police said taxis were damaged during a 12-hour strike by Hackney Carriage and Private Hire drivers held from 6pm on Sunday.

They were striking over proposed new legislation which includes restrictions on the age and more frequent testing of vehicles.

Protesters drove slowly along Westgate, continuously beeping car horns and causing delays for other motorists.

And police said a 32-year-old taxi driver was attacked after and argument with two men at about 1.50am, on George Street.

Insp Ian Williams, of the Central neighbourhood police team (NPT), said: “We are investigating a number of damage offences and other incidents which took place on May 4 and involved private hire taxis.

“Largely these incidents involved eggs being thrown at vehicles. But we have also recorded incidents of obstruction and an assault in which a male driver was punched.”

Dozens of drivers protested in the Bull Ring holding placards.

More than 37 taxi bases across the district closed during the strike action.

ACE Taxis driver Ali Ahmed said: “Driving a taxi is very hard work and we provide a valuable public service.

We are sorry that members of the public were inconvenienced however the situation our industry faces in Wakefield is fast becoming untenable

“That said, with current changes to already stifling regulations being proposed, there is a strong chance that many companies in Wakefield will have to close.

“Naturally we are sorry that members of the public were inconvenienced however the situation our industry faces in Wakefield is fast becoming untenable.”

The strike was called after drivers’ representatives claimed the council had refused to meet them about the proposed changes until after the May 7 election.

In a joint statement the city’s Private Hire and Hackney Carriage associations said Wakefield Council already charged one of the highest fees to the trade in the country and that any new legislation would mean increased fares and reduce the number of taxis firms could operate.

Insp Williams said: “It is fair to say these incidents did cause disruption in the town centre during the early hours of Sunday and we will be looking to take action against those who have been committing offences.”

Two more strikes have been planned for Monday, May 11, and the weekend of May 24 and 25.

Anyone with any information should contact police on 101.