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Stumbling into a meeting of Birmingham Council’s Licensing Committee yesterday (well, someone has to) Stirrer editor Adrian Goldberg comes across allegations that the local authority is “robbing” city taxi drivers to pay for its budgte shortfall – and all in the name of Business Transformation.

The allegations were made by Brandwood councillor Mike Leddy and his Labour colleague Barbara Dring, who are aghast at plans to claw back £222,000 from the Licensing budget and put it in the central “pot”.

Licensing has a surplus of £122,000 – but £79,000 of this has been raised from applications made by hackney carriage (ie black cab) drivers’ and the local authority’s own legal advice appears to suggest that this is ringfenced for their use.

At the same time, the only way the committee can readily meet its new budget requirements is to raid reserves like these - hence Leddy’s “robbing the taxi drivers” outburst.

The committee is also being asked, in effect, to raise its charges over and above what’s needed to cover the cost of administration to make up budget shortfalls elsewhere - and all because because Business Transformation has only yielded half this year’s promised £62million savings.

Similar demands are also being made of the Environmental Services and Planning committees – which means that ordinary householders who want permission for a conservatory will ultimately pay the price for the failures elsewhere in the Council.

This, at least, is the version propagated by Leddy – we’ve asked the Council for their version of events and look forward to seeing their response.



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