The issuing of new taxi licences has been suspended in Knowsley as the council struggles to cope with a deluge of applications.
The move follows changes to the licensing process which some critics say have made it too easy to for people to qualify to drive a taxi - specifically removal of the ‘street knowledge’ section of the application.
Also it is no longer a requirement for a Hackney cab or private hire driver to live in the area where the licence is issued.
Taxi drivers in Merseyside have been speaking out over the issue claiming would-be drivers are ‘scamming’ Knowsley Council by going into the borough applying for a licence and then going to Manchester or Liverpool to ‘work for Uber’ because they don’t have to have ‘ street knowledge to get a licence in the borough.
Now Knowsley Council licensing bosses say they “intend to look into the reasons for the increased numbers, which may include a review of existing policies to ensure that they remain robust and fit for purpose”.
A statement on the authority’s website said: “The current rate of applications is not sustainable as the council’s licensing service simply has not currently got the resources to manage and regulate the increasing level of drivers, particularly if some of these drivers have no intention of operating within in the Knowsley area.”
For a taxi licence in Knowsley applicants must pay £49, show you ”are a fit a proper person’, pass a DBS and DVLA check, a medical and have been driving for 12 months.
Once you pass the checks applicants must complete the Level 2 Certificate in the ‘Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver’ (QCF), which doesn’t include a ‘street knowledge’ test, before you are licensed to drive and take a driver skills assessment with council officers.
The temporary suspension is expected to last ‘no longer than 14 days’ and the council said “they would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause but it is felt that this is a necessary measure at this time”.
A Knowsley Council spokesperson said: “The volume of taxi licensing applications received has significantly increased recently.
"In December 2016, we received twice as many applications as we would normally expect and we are not resourced to process and regulate this many applications.
"As a result, we are reviewing our processes and the reasons for the increase in applications. This is anticipated to take a few weeks and whilst this review is being undertaken, we have introduced a temporary suspension of any new licenses being processed.”