TAXI drivers in Dudley have been putting their foot down to demand changes in how their cars are safety tested.

Concerned cabbies say they were being forced off the road by a lack of facilities at Dudley Council’s only testing station which meant they were waiting weeks for an appointment.

The chairman of the Dudley Private Hire and Taxi Association, Shaz Saleem, presented the authority with a petition containing 500 signatures at a showdown meeting on March 5 to demand an upgraded service at the Lister Road depot.

Council chiefs, including cabinet member for transport, cllr Khurshid Ahmed, appear to have put the brakes on further protests for now by promising improvements to the station, which carries out enhanced MOT-style checks which must be passed before cars can be used as taxis.

Cllr Ahmed said: “Having listened to the concerns of the taxi trade, the council has committed to a state of the art ‘one stop’ testing facility that will provide ample capacity for taxi testing, with the added provision of an MOT service if required.

“This new facility is currently being refurbished and is due to open in May. With more taxis operating in the borough it is important that the council has responded to an increase in demand, acknowledging that our existing facility is stretched at peak periods.

“We have brought in more staff to deal with this, until the new facility is up and running, which will significantly improve the timescales drivers have to wait."

The upgrades promised to drivers include an additional ramp, the station currently has one, an improved computer system for testing vehicles and staff registered with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency on site to improve standards.

Mr Saleem said: “I welcome this move. I believe this should improve standards and service. Our concern had always been not receiving value for money service. With what we have been promised it appears we will get the service we have desired.

"We will give the new station time and we hope it will achieve its purpose.”

However Mr Saleem sent a clear message that if the authority fails to drive through changes there could be more trouble round the corner.

He added: “If their promises are not kept we will consider our options.”