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Councillor backs safety call over taxis

Published Thursday, 15 March 2018

A leading city councillor has backed a call for the government to get tougher on taxi and private hire drivers and improve passenger safety.

Cllr Jayne Innes spoke out after a call from London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross to put an end to ‘cross border hiring’.

At present, taxi and private hire drivers can work anywhere in England once they have their licence.

It means they can apply to areas where standards are believed to be lower and licenses are easier to come by, even if they have no intention of working there.

This has led to a number of issues across the country, including drivers with convictions for violence and sexual offences being granted licences in one area despite having been refused elsewhere.

One authority has licensed 1,000 drivers from their own area but more than 6,000 from others.

Cllr Innes has previously called for tougher laws to ensure high standards and urged people to use taxis licensed by the city council.

She said: "We currently licence over 1,400 drivers and 1,000 taxis and we have very tough checks in place that mean we can ensure all cabs licensed by us are roadworthy and safe.

"All of our drivers are DBS and DVLA checked and they have to complete a driving skills and a medical assessment. We also provide Disability and Child Sexual Exploitation Training as well as a road knowledge test.

"People need to know that they and their families are getting into a safe taxi with a safe and well-trained driver and that is why we want these tough cross-border checks in place.

“The people of our city should have the best taxi service they can get and that’s what these new laws would ensure so I am delighted that the call has been taken up and the pressure on the government is growing.”

The latest call has seen London Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross, request a meeting with Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani to discuss the issue and look at raising national standards across the taxi and private hire industries.

She said: “Cross-border hiring is a serious national safety issue that must be tackled by the Government. It cannot be right that drivers can obtain a licence in an area where they believe standards are lower, and then go to work elsewhere in the country where they feel they can ignore enforcement officers.

“We need the Government to pass legislation now that insists drivers start or finish their journey in their licensing authority and deliver a national minimum standard to help ensure safety of passengers.”

The problem has grown worse with the development of new technology and in London there are currently more than 1,000 drivers with home addresses in Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield who are believed to rarely – if ever - work in the capital. 

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