Taxi firms suspended services in Stoke-on-Trent following police warnings and threats from right-wing extremists. Most of the city’s largest private hire companies stopped running between 11pm on Saturday and 4am yesterday to protect drivers and passengers. It followed advice from Staffordshire Police in the wake of violence which erupted at the English Defence League (EDL) rally, in Hanley, on Saturday afternoon. And it has emerged some taxi firms also received phone calls from individuals threatening to target Asian and Muslim drivers.
Basharat Hussein, who runs Auto Cab Private Hire, in Normacot, said his firm was among those targeted. The 41-year-old manager said: “We were having threatening calls over the phone and were scared for the safety of our drivers and our customers. They were threatening to target our drivers because many of them are Asian or Muslim. We had also been getting advice from the police before the demonstration and therefore decided not to go out.”
Mohammed Mushtaq, aged 36, manager of Tunstall-based City Centre Private Hire, said he took the decision to suspend services following a call from the police. He said: “One of the sergeants at Tunstall rang and warned us that if we did go out, it would be at our own risk. The police said anyone working in and around Cobridge was particularly at risk. We carried on until about 10pm, but, after the police warning, we decided it was not worth the risk. The drivers were too scared to carry on, so we stopped all services between 11pm and 4am.”