Taxi drivers who fail Telford council standards test still working in area - cabinet member
Taxi drivers who fail Telford and Wrekin’s standards tests still work in the area with licences from neighbouring councils, a cabinet member has said.
Richard Overton, the portfolio holder for enforcement in the borough’s Labour administration, was speaking in support of a motion opposing cross-border hiring.
The motion – which passed unanimously – was tabled by Conservative councillor Stephen Burrell and called on the Government to to allow local authorities greater control of the private hire operators in their area.
Cllr Burrell said a “doubtlessly well-intentioned” law change four years ago aimed to streamline the licence application process, but also “diluted” local authorities’ control.
Cllr Overton said: “Prior to the Deregulation Act of 2015, private-hire operators were only permitted to subcontract jobs to operators licenced by the same authority as themselves. Following deregulation, they were permitted to subcontract to operators licenced by any authority in England and Wales.
“For example, a booking will be received for a job in Telford and that job could be lawfully subcontracted to operators licenced by Wolverhampton City Council, who in turn would be able to subcontract a Shropshire-licenced vehicle and driver to undertake that work.”
He said the council had repeatedly lobbied the Government for a change in the rules.
“Here in Telford and Wrekin, to protect our public, we have robust standards in place for vehicles and drivers,” he said.
“These standards are not always mirrored by our neighbouring authorities.”
He said Telford and Wrekin required drivers to undergo child sexual exploitation and disability awareness training and did not grant vehicle licences to cars with darkened windows that would obscure outsiders’ view of passengers inside. Shropshire Council, Cllr Overton said, required less thorough training and did not have a light trasmittence policy for car windows.
“There have been numerous instances of drivers failing this council’s standards test and, subsequently, being granted a licence by Wolverhampton City Council,” he added.
“We have the ridiculous situation of a driver who has been refused by Telford and Wrekin Council still being able to work in Telford.”
Cllr Burrell said: “In the absence of national standards, we would ask that the council commit to working with neighbouring local authorities to develop and adopt a set of minimal standards, following on from which we would ask the council to seek development of a reciprocal approach with those authorities.
“By holding the Government to account, being fully compliant with the most recent guidelines and working with local authorities, we can demonstrate emphatically to all residents that our council is doing everything within its power to ensure their journeys are both agreeable and safe.”