New rules for Wakefield taxi drivers approved in bid to make industry safer

Local cabbies had complained about the proposals.
Local cabbies had complained about the proposals.

Tight new rules for the taxi industry in Wakefield, including automatic bans for drivers convicted of certain offences, will come into force in September.

The move is designed to bring councils across West Yorkshire and York in line with each other on standards, in a bid to dissuade drivers getting their licence from one authority and then working in another area.

The new rules will be brought in on September 1.

The new rules will be brought in on September 1.

A local group representing around 600 taxi drivers was concerned about the bans, and likened the proposals to treating "sweet-stealing children" the same as "career criminals".

They said there should be more focus on rehabilitating offending drivers and that each case should be treated on its individual merits.

But public consultations in other parts of the region indicated a more favourable view to the proposals.

And Wakefield Council said that the proposals still offered flexibility when considering sanctions against convicted drivers.

On Wednesday the authority's licensing committee was told that the new rules were in line with guidance published by the Institute of Licensing last year.

Council officer Helen Earnshaw said: "If we didn't adopt this, we'd have to show our reasons why to the government.

"I think it's recognised that there needs to be more harmonisation on taxi policy across the country, so drivers won't just go to one authority (for a licence) that might have lesser standards.

"The new policy categorises offences. The more offences you try to list you often find there's one that's not been listed, and that can cause problems."

Cabbies who've spent more than three months out of the UK in the past three years will now also need to produce a "certificate of good conduct" from the country they've lived in to obtain or keep a licence.

In one change from the original proposals, drivers convicted of a minor road offence would have to wait three years before reapplying for their licence, rather than five.

Those who use a mobile phone while driving however, will still be banned for five years.

Ms Earnshaw added: "We would take action if someone had seven points or more on their driving licence.

"So if they've been caught speeding twice and got six points, they wouldn't be caught out."

Councillors voted to approve the new measures but agreed to delay implementing them until September 1 to allow time for the changes to be communicated.

Length of bans for taxi drivers after single conviction

Crimes resulting in death of another person - Lifelong ban (any application automatically refused)

Exploitation - Lifelong ban

Violence (including arson, riot, terrorism offences, harassment, common assault and criminal damage) - 10 years

Possession of a weapon or any other weapon related offence - 7 years

Sex and indecency offences - Lifelong ban

Dishonesty - 7 years

Drugs supply - 10 years

Drugs use - 5 years

Discrimination - 7 years

Drink driving/driving under the influence of drugs - 7 years

Driving while using handheld mobile phone or other handheld device - 5 years

Minor traffic or vehicle related offences - 3 years

Major traffic or vehicle related offences - 7 years

Vehicle use offences - 7 years

Local Democracy Reporting Service