Shropshire Council is acting illegally by allowing taxi drivers to work across the county without valid licences, a national taxi association said today.
In a letter leaked to the Shropshire Star, it is claimed the local authority has been sending out ‘written permission’ to hackney carriage taxis and private hire drivers allowing them to carry on picking up passengers despite having expired licences.
It says it is due to delays by the CRB and DVLA in processing the new licences and the fact it is ‘unable’ to issue temporary badges.
The National Private Hire Association has urged council leader Keith Barrow to conduct an urgent investigation after saying the council was acting unlawfully by making such claims, which is putting drivers and passengers at risk by invalidating insurances.
In the letter about a renewal licence application Janet Gadd, licensing officer at Shropshire Council, said: “I write to inform you that the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and DVLA have not yet processed your disclosure.
“In view of the fact that your old badge is due to expire and as, at this moment in time, we are unable to issue you with a temporary badge and licence, please accept this letter as authorisation for you to continue to drive using your expired badge.”
She added the drivers should keep the letter with them when they were working.
But Donna Short, director of the National Private Hire Association, said: “We believe the above request is unlawful under existing legislation, and would put the licence holder at risk if he/she is carrying fare paying passengers under these circumstances.”
Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “The letter that the licensing section used to issue is in effect a licence, or as it states, it is an ‘authorisation’ for the driver to continue. If the driver therefore has licence from the council to continue driving, he or she could not be prosecuted under the legislation. The practice has now changed and the council is now granting interim licences under the 1976 Act.”