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    Highland Council lowers requirements for new drivers

    Last week, the taxi licensing committee of the Highland Council – covering Inverness and the Highland region – agreed on proposed changes to the knowledge tests which all new drivers are required to pass.

    Before gaining their license, prospective taxi drivers in the Highlands must pass two different tests: the first includes twenty-one region-specific questions; the second relates to the driver's local area.

    For some time, the required pass mark has been set at 85 per cent, which has received considerable criticism from the region's operators. They see it as a significant obstacle to bringing new drivers into the industry and argue that today’s available satellite navigation technology minimises the likelihood of drivers getting lost on complex routes.

    In response, the Council's licensing committee has agreed to a new pass mark, lowering the required threshold to 75 per cent.

    The move comes as part of a wider review into the taxi industry’s operations in the area, which may also see fares increase at unsocial times of the year, such as Christmas, New Year and bank holidays.

    Debating the motion, Inverness South councillor Andrew Jarvie supported the change. ‘If you lower [the required mark] to 75 per cent, the pass mark is fifteen questions. You are talking about lowering the pass mark by two wrong questions. That’s not a huge amount which is going to be detrimental.’

    Contrastingly, councillor Karl Rosie, SNP representative for Thurso and Northwest Caithness, cited the importance of knowledgeable drivers to the Highlands' tourist industry, which forms a key part of the regional economy. Rosie said, ‘It should be incumbent on us all to be ambassadors in the Highlands, no matter which area you're in. Having a good knowledge of routes and surrounding environments can only be a good thing.’

    We’re intrigued to see how the story evolves and, should the change pass, how the new legislation will affect operators across the Highlands and their recruitment prospects.

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