Crack­down on neigh­bour­ing coun­cil’s taxi driv­ers

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Carl Jack­son Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

WOLVER­HAMP­TON Coun­cil has fi­nally agreed to crack down on li­censed pri­vate hire driv­ers op­er­at­ing unchecked in Birm­ing­ham, bosses have claimed.

The Black Coun­try coun­cil has been ac­cused of hand­ing out li­cences like ‘sweets’ and low­er­ing stan­dards in the West Mid­lands – although their own chiefs have de­fended their process say­ing it as one of the most ef­fi­cient and best in the coun­try.

But Birm­ing­ham taxi driv­ers have claimed they are un­der pres­sure by out-of-area driv­ers flood­ing the city while coun­cil li­cens­ing of­fi­cers have safe­guard­ing con­cerns be­cause they have no en­force­ment pow­ers over them.

That could now change, thanks to new rules pro­posed by a Gov­ern­ment task-and-fin­ish group which were dis­cussed by Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil’s Li­cens­ing and Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion com­mit­tee.

Chair­man Cllr Bar­bara Dring (Lab, Os­cott) said there had been a ‘good re­cep­tion’ to the rec­om­men­da­tions from all coun­cils in the West Mid­lands ‘in­clud­ing Wolver­hamp­ton’ adding she would now be writ­ing to Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling to urge that the gov­ern­ment re­spond to the group swiftly.

A Wolver­hamp­ton Coun­cil spokesman said: “We are al­ready on record on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions set­ting out the very strin­gent ap­pli­ca­tion vet­ting and qual­ity as­sur­ance process that we have in place in the city which is much stricter than many other places.

“We work closely with our col­leagues in the re­gion on lots of is­sues and look for­ward to work­ing with them much more closely on the is­sue of taxi li­cens­ing.”

A key rec­om­men­da­tion in the task-and-fin­ish group re­port in­cludes al­low­ing coun­cil of­fi­cers to take out en­force­ment ac­tion against any pri­vate hire driver in their area re­gard­less of where they have been li­censed.

An­other, if adopted, would re­strict driv­ers to work­ing in the area they are li­censed although they would be en­ti­tled to ap­ply for more than one coun­cil li­cence.

Li­cens­ing and Pub­lic Pro­tec­tion com­mit­tee mem­bers also wel­comed the re­port.

Cllr Mary Locke (Lab, Stirch­ley) said: “I use taxis a lot and a num­ber of driv­ers have said peo­ple come to Birm­ing­ham from Wolver­hamp­ton and Sandwell.

“I’m not against know the area.

“Peo­ple are get­ting in taxis and are hav­ing to di­rect them, or they may not know ei­ther be­cause they are new to the city so I en­dorse this.” it but they don’t

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