Wolverhampton cabbies 'aren't very good at driving' says Telford councillor
Taxi drivers from Wolverhampton “aren’t very good” and don’t know their way around Telford, a councillor has claimed.
Councillor John Thompson, a member of Telford & Wrekin Council's licensing committee, praised those licensed by other local authorities but said drivers from the city “need better training” before travelling north-west into the borough.
The council's customer and neighbourhood services chief Angie Astley said cabinet member Richard Overton had met with Wolverhampton Council’s licensing chairman to argue they should adopt similar standards for licensing taxi and private hire drivers and operators and encourage the installation of CCTV in vehicles.
Earlier this week the Telford and Wrekin Licensing Committee approved a new draft of the “safe and suitable person” guidance which will undergo a 28-day consultation and, if adopted, apply to all new and applications and renewals.
Councillor Charles Smith said Telford & Wrekin was “upping our standards”, but asked: “Are the other councils doing the same?”
Ms Astley said the council is continuously lobbying the Government to produce uniform standards across the country, but acknowledged “that change isn’t going to come overnight”.
She added: “The cabinet member, Richard Overton, did write to the chair of licensing in Wolverhampton and did have a meeting last week to ask them to adopt similar standards.
“We are about to do the same with Shropshire.
“The conversations with Wolverhampton are also along the lines of encouraging their drivers to adopt CCTV.
“We haven’t had that conversation with Shropshire, but we will.”
Councillor Thompson said drivers licensed by Shropshire or Telford and Wrekin are “very good”, but added: “The ones I see from Wolverhampton don’t know ‘the knowledge’, they aren’t very good at driving, and they aren’t a credit to the other drivers.
“When the sat-nav goes down, they might contact the operator who might help them, but they don’t know the area at all.
“They need to get better training before they come to Telford and Wrekin, because that’s what the customers expect.”
Chairman Liz Clare said: “They’re coming over and they don’t know the area. You say ‘I want to go to Lawley’, or Leegomery, and they look at you gone out.”
The draft ‘safe and suitable’ person standards document proposes lengthening the period convicted criminals are barred from being granted licenses and defines a safe and suitable person as “honest and trustworthy; not abusive, violent or threatening; a competent and safe driver; conversant with the area that they are working in, to ensure passengers are carried economically; able to communicate effectively with passengers and read, speak, write and understand English, and in good physical and mental health.”
Cllr Alan Bolshaw, chairman of City of Wolverhampton Licensing Committee, said 'the broad brushstroke' claims about Wolverhampton taxi drivers is 'ridiculous'.
“Correspondence has been received from Telford & Wrekin and a meeting with Councillor Overton took place last week, as Telford & Wrekin are looking to improve their standards," he said.
"Last year, City of Wolverhampton Council reviewed its guidelines to ensure that they were at least as stringent as the guidelines published by the Institute of Licensing.
“Research using police crime reports is currently taking place, to identify whether mandating CCTV in private hire and hackney carriage vehicles is proportionate, in accordance with guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office on data protection. A voluntary CCTV programme is also being considered.
“The council believes its licensing system is the best in the country; the Home Office highlighted its decision-making processes and stringent guidelines as regional best practice.
"All applicants are required to successfully complete the one-day Driver Training Programme, which includes modules on the conditions of licence, child sexual exploitation, disability awareness, safeguarding, health and safety.
"We also believe that we are the first licensing authority to provide training on modern slavery.
"Since the creation of the National Register of Refusals and Revocations (NR3) by the National Anti-Fraud Network, Wolverhampton checks this national database for every new applicant. The Council adds all applicants who are refused and all drivers who are revoked by Wolverhampton to the database. Not all licensing authorities participate in this scheme.
“The picture Councillor Thompson paints of drivers licensed by City of Wolverhampton Council is not one recognised by the council. With 15,000 drivers, the broad brushstroke that they “aren’t very good at driving” is ridiculous.
"Drivers must hold a full UK driving licence and their licence conditions also require them to comply with all traffic regulations and not cause an obstruction.
"Licensing Committee agreed that the requirement for private hire drivers to undertake a geographical knowledge test was old-fashioned and obsolete in the age of satellite navigation.
"Our guidelines also cover driving standards and if there are concerns regarding a driver/applicant’s ability, they can be required to complete an advanced road risk assessment.
"We investigate all specific complaints sent us; if there are concerns regarding a specific incident of substandard driving, we will investigate the matter and take action as appropriate.”
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