Council bosses have revealed the staggering number of Wolverhampton taxi drivers operating out of Coventry.
A meeting between senior Coventry politicians and Wolverhampton councillors took place to tackle the influx of Uber cabs operating out of Coventry using Wolverhampton licences.
But it was revealed during this meeting that Wolverhampton City Council license 241 taxi drivers with Coventry addresses - and it was acknowledged that it is in this area that these drivers actually operate.
Having previously campaigned for tighter regulation in neighbouring cities, Cllr Jayne Innes, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for city services, was joined by Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham in meet-
ng with Wolverhampton City Council’s cabinet member for city environment Cllr Steve Evans, and chair of licensing committee Cllr Alan Bolshaw.
Cllr Innes said: “I think everyone in Coventry now knows that Uber is not licensed to operate taxis here in Coventry.
“Here in Coventry we place tight rules and regulations on our taxi drivers. We require them to have excellent local knowledge, good standards of English, to undergo disability and child sexual exploitation training, and to have their vehicles checked on a six- monthly basis. It goes without saying they also need to be DBS cleared.
“Our taxi licensing process is based on repeated face-to-face contact. This is one of the ways we differ from Wolverhampton, where there is only the need for one face-to-face meeting between the council and each driver.
“In Wolverhampton most of the application process takes place online, and it is possible for a new taxi driver to be taking fares just two weeks after first accessing the website.
“I am fighting for safe professional taxis here in Coventry. It is frustrating that taxi law has not kept pace with technological advances. It is now possible for customers to use a phone app for taxi bookings, and this means taxi drivers can effectively adopt a ‘flag of convenience’ to operate outside the rules. This places drivers who play by the rules at a disadvantage.”
Following the two- hour meeting, greater co-operation between the two councils was agreed upon. Cllr Innes said: “Wolverhampton City Council admitted that they license 241 taxi drivers with addresses in Coventry. And they acknowledge these drivers work in the Coventry area, and not Wolverhampton.
“As Wolverhampton is granting licences to taxi drivers that it will be up to Coventry City Council to manage on a day-to-day basis, the fees paid by Coventry taxi drivers are essentially subsidising Wolverhampton’s taxi office.
“I explained this subsidy is not acceptable, and Wolverhampton City Council has agreed to provide enforcement of Wolverhampton-licensed taxis in Coventry.
“Wolverhampton City Council has also agreed to contact their Coventry-based taxi drivers with any messages Coventry City Council needs to communicate. We need to issue messages to local drivers on a variety of occasions through the year, eg when there is a big event in the city, or when there are major road works.
“Wolverhampton council has also agreed to ask Coventry-based applicants to consider choosing to license in Coventry instead.”
Coventry South MP, Jim Cunningham said; “The issue of Uber operating in our city has been raised with me time and time again. It’s vital that our taxi drivers are not undercut and that
the process they go through in terms of getting a licence is not undermined by drivers being able to by-pass this process.
“It was useful to hear about how Wolverhampton operate and I’m grateful to them for meeting with us. I’m delighted that working with the council here in Coventry that some progress seems to be being made although it is actions not words that will make the difference.”
Mmmm… This is such a typical example of the cross border mess the industry is in around the country. As Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham says, it is actions – not words – that will make the difference. At least the two councils are having talks, but an arrangement should be made whereby (a) reciprocal enforcement is instated across the two districts; (b) an “intended use” policy is enforced on all applicants, who must declare in which district they intend to work – and this must be enforced; and (c) Wolverhampton standards, and licensing fees, are placed on a par with those of Coventry. This is exactly why all industry stakeholders are crying out for national standards to be set on all taxi/PHV licensing fronts. As for the Uber aspect of all this, well… everyone’s eyes are on London at present, but the net must close in on those Uber drivers licensed in one district working exclusively in another. Where to start… - Ed.