Police examine CCTV footage from Metro taxi 'chair-throwing' brawl
POLICE are examining CCTV footage as they continue investigations into fighting which broke out at a mass meeting of taxi drivers in Bolton.
Witness statements are also being collected about the violence which flared up at a gathering attended by hundreds of drivers, hosted by Metro Taxis at the Excellency banqueting suite.
Police were called to the Lower Bridgeman Street venue at 7.20pm last Tuesday after reports of a disturbance with 20 men allegedly at the centre of incident.
However when officers arrived, the fighting had ended. No injuries or offences were reported and no arrests made.
The trouble erupted as the meeting drew to a close, preventing the announcement of a potential deal on raising fares.
Drivers want higher fares in keeping with rival firms and have threatened strike action if new fares are not introduced by September 18. A previous strike threat was made in May.
Metro boss Nick Astley was visited by police on Friday.
He said: “The police are now investigating this and taking statements, so it’s out of my hands. They are also looking at CCTV footage from around the Excellency area.
“It’s very upsetting that a handful of people caused all this disruption. I’ve been told that some drivers from other taxi firms were there, although I can’t confirm that.
“I’ve also been told that some of drivers are again threatening to strike. It’s a joke — how can they strike when they’re self-employed or don’t work for me?
“The events at the Excellency were very emb-arrassing and we apologise for that.
“There were hundreds of taxi drivers there and another 200 guests at a wedding reception.
“I must emphasise that only a handful of people caused the problems. Others got caught in the crossfire or were trying to calm the situation down.”
Mr Astley said three Metro drivers had handed back their taxi radios this week, effectively pre-venting them from working for him.
They said they had been accused of being part of the trouble, but he said their claims and motives were unclear to him.
He said well-wishers had sent him and his mum, Norma, cards, flowers and a bottle of champagne since the trouble.
Mrs Astley left the Excellency suite when fighting broke out after men mounted the stage, shouted through a microphone and chairs were thrown.
He believed a deal on fares could be reached but paperwork linked to Bolton Council’s taxi licensing system could delay things.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “We can confirm investigations are under way.”
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