'It won't risk public safety': Taxi driver unions call for changes to Wakefield's licensing system
Taxi drivers are calling for changes to the licensing system, claiming the current rules are too bureaucratic and bad for the environment.
Cabbies with vehicles over five years old are only given a licence from Wakefield Council for six months at a time, which costs them £120 per renewal.
Drivers want the licences to be extended to a full year, in a move they say would cut costs for them and the taxpayer, and bring Wakefield into line with other West Yorkshire councils.
Cars over five years old also have to be tested every six months at a cost of £54 per time.
The drivers say they have no issue with six-monthly tests continuing in the interests of the public safety.
Both the Wakefield Drivers Association (WDA) and the Wakefield District Hackney Carriage & Private Hire Association (WDHCPHA) have called for the changes, with one local driver having started an online petition.
The council said it was too early to comment on the issues raised, but confirmed it had received the petition.
WDA spokesman Wajid Ali said: "This is something drivers have been calling for for a number of years. The council has always said their policy is about maintaining public safety.
"We don’t want to risk public safety at all. We don’t have any issue carrying on with the tests every six months.
Mr Ali said the petition was "About cutting bureaucracy and cutting plastic waste", because the local authority currently issues "around 3,200 plastic licensing plates a year".
"You can divide that by half if they extend licences to a year," Mr Ali added.
"It’s taxpayers who are losing out here too.
"We hope common sense prevails and we want to work hand-in-hand with the council."
The WDA said that continuing with the policy risked forcing cabbies to get their licence from another authority elsewhere in the UK while still trading in Wakefield.
Taxi drivers are entitled to do this under a controversial deregulation system brought in by the government in 2015.
WDHCPHA chairman Abdul Rehman said his union had first raised the issue in December 2018 and that the council was already considering the issue.
He added that the association was expecting a decision on the matter by the council's licensing committee at the end of next month.
Mr Rehman said: "Whilst a matter for the council’s licensing committee, WDHCPHA hopes this requested change to policy will be made, as the benefits have now been clarified and reassurance given that such a change would not compromise public safety in any way.
He added: "WDHCPHA welcomes the support from other associations and the trade generally in relation to this request.”
In response, the council's service director for communities, Antony Sadler, said: "It is too early to comment on the specific points raised, but we can confirm that we have received a petition, it will be considered in the usual way and we will be responding in due course."
Local Democracy Reporting Service