Crackdown on neighbouring council’s taxi drivers
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