Safety for passengers

Call for change in taxi licensing laws after chauffeur scandal welcomed

A call to change licensing laws for private hire vehicles has been welcomed by after the National Private Hire and Taxi Association called for ‘more stringent nation guidelines on licensing and a national database of drivers.’

The call came after a chauffeur company was discovered to have driven tens of thousands of passengers round in potentially dangerous vehicles.

Zoom has been calling for changes in the rules after figures from the Department of Transport showed a huge increase in the number of registered minicabs in certain areas where the requirements for a license had been relaxed.

Wolverhampton topped the list with a massive 383.3% increase in drivers, according to the council’s own figures. Drivers say that the City Council has been granting licenses to drivers who come from all over the country to exploit the easier tests.

The impact is being felt outside Wolverhampton, with council bosses in Coventry saying there has been a staggering number of Uber drivers registered with WCC operating in their area.
Ebrahim Suleman from Union Cars says the huge increase is all to do with Uber being granted its operator license by the council.

He says he believes Uber took advantage of the Deregulation Act 2015 and now have drivers starting their work in Wolves but then travelling around the country using their WCC license, something they were unable to do before 2015.

“They might start in Wolverhampton, then go to Birmingham, then pick up a fare from Birmingham to Coventry and then onto London,” he said.

But Fareed Baloch, Chief Operating Officer of Zoom.Taxi said drivers were “concerned that the council was handing out badges too easily and without stringent tests which used to be a hallmark for the industry.”

“The industry has always taken passenger safety very seriously and many licensing authorities now include mandatory training on child sexual exploitation or unaccompanied packages,” he said.

“You cannot assess if someone is competent at driving or their awareness of issues like CSE and terrorism from an online form.”

The Institute of Licensing, which represents licensing officials, is also demanding better national standards to check the background of applicants, saying they have been “concerned for years about variable standards of licensing across the country.”

Speaking to The Times President James Button said, “This is a serious problem with far too many examples of deeply unsuitable people, sometimes with alarming criminal records, being licensed. In the face of apparently deep inertia on the part of the government, the Institute is trying to raise awareness of the matter.”


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