A “dangerous” lack of taxis in the city could be fixed if Hull City Council relaxed the way new taxi drivers are registered according to Hull Private Hire Association.
According to the Hull Daily Mail, Magnus Murray, secretary of the group, says a chronic shortage of taxi drivers means people are opting to walk long distances because they cannot book cars late on some evenings.
Following a busy weekend with numerous events including Hull Pride, Mr Murray said some party-goers were told they would have to wait for hours on Saturday evening for a taxi.
The owner of 706 Cars said: “People are having to wait hours for taxis and it isn’t safe. It’s not just on weekends either. There can be lots of drivers working but there is such a demand at the minute that we just need more in Hull.
“When people are having to walk home because they are unable to get a taxi it is dangerous. We need more drivers, at least 300 hundred drivers would be needed to help sort this out.
“But it’s not even just a City of Culture thing. Last year we told the council there would be problems but they didn’t sort it.”
But Mr Murray said taxi companies would be able address this shortage if it was made easier for new drivers to register in the city.
Currently, all new drivers in Hull need to pass a BTEC as well DBS checks in order to register. Mr Murray says the process is costly and time consuming, putting unemployed people off entering the industry and addressing the shortage.
In contrast, Mr Murrary said that in Newcastle, drivers do not need any educational qualifications to register, and in the East Riding new drivers can take their BTEC qualifications while in the job.
Mr Murray added: “What they do in East Riding is require a BTEC but people can do it when they are in the job. It’s mandatory but makes it more affordable for people.
“They have the time to do it, a year, and are earning so can afford the money to pay for the tuition.
“If you don’t get the qualification in the time frame then they revoke the licence. It doesn’t put people off trying to become drivers but still holds them to that standard. I’ve put it forward to the (Hull City) council to do this but they aren’t interested.”
Mr Murray said the Association is hoping to involve the Government. He said: “We want to try to get Parliament involved because we believe it’s unlawful and our solicitors are looking into it.
“The council say there are 1,100 or 1,200 drivers but the truth is there are only about 900 working drivers which is not enough.”
A Hull City Council spokeswoman said the rules to register are a “benefit” to drivers and customers, and there are more than 1,000 registered drivers in the city.
She said: “Like all authorities across the country, the safety of residents and visitors travelling around the city is paramount. It is our responsibility to minimise any risk posed to people using a taxi or private hire vehicle.
“As of June, there were 1,231 private hire drivers and 233 hackney carriage drivers licensed by Hull City Council. Drivers’ working hours are at their own, or their employers’ discretion.
“The checks and assessments drivers must undergo in order to obtain a licence, which include background checks, have been introduced by the Licensing Committee over a period of time.
“These are there for the benefit of both customers and drivers, ensuring drivers have the appropriate knowledge and ability to be able to safely transport the fare paying public. These measures include the introduction of a BTEC qualification, designed to develop, support and enhance the knowledge of prospective applicants who want to earn a living from taxi driving.”
Mmmm… As with all licensing procedures within a local authority, the most difficult result to achieve is a balance between reasonable licensing conditions, and a realisation that people need to earn a living. Parliament is not the answer; more likely the Ombudsman. Once again, hats off to East Riding, whose humane approach allows for both. – Ed.