Derby Taxi Law Changes Place Driver Earnings in Jeopardy
A leading taxi firm in Derby has appealed for the city council to rethink new taxi laws that will considerably impact driver earnings and could put passengers at risk due to a legal loophole.
Western Cars employs over one hundred and fifty drivers across the city, and has always required drivers’ licenses to be issued by Derby City Council. Because the Council’s requirements are thorough, in terms of area knowledge and safety checks, which are re-assessed regularly, this ensures that only drivers who are completely fit to work are licensed.
However, in July, the City Council expanded the criteria that drivers must meet: now, they must have qualifications in English, maths and IT, and attend an additional safeguarding course that the council will run.
For drivers, the financial ramifications of this will be significant: the price of courses will rise by almost 100%, from £330 to £600, whilst the qualifications will require a day out of drivers’ weeks over a thirty-four week period and lose them a day’s wages each time.
In response to the effects of the policy on drivers, Western Cars are considering to raise fees by 10% due to increased costs. Many cabbies are also threatening strike action.
One way that drivers can circumvent this kind of local legislation is to earn their taxi driver’s license in a different city, and then return to Derby to work. However, this also gets around the council’s safety assessments.
Mark Keenan, MD of Western Cars, said: ‘Many of our drivers are coming to me and asking if they will still be able to drive for us if they decide to get a badge from another local authority because it's cheaper and easier for them?
This will still allow them to work in the city but with no council control over the driver or the car.
Obviously, the more drivers that decide to do this, we will seriously have to think whether our Derby licence-only policy is the best thing but then we have to way this up against safety concerns.
I feel quite backed into a corner on this. Especially as other taxi companies do not have the same policy as us.’
One taxi driver who’s worked in Derby for almost twenty years said: ‘I've already taken a written knowledge test an NVQ level 2 and a BTEC level 2, a safeguarding course - all council instigated. Now I'm being told I've got to take maths, English and IT at a cost of £150 and could require a day a week at college for 12 months costing me, on top of that, a loss of the day's takings.
Taxi drivers are already struggling in Derby. All we want is to be treated fairly. These changes –especially the maths, English and IT requirements – aren’t needed and we certainly can't afford to lose thousands while doing it.’
By the end of the month, Derby City Council is set to meet to discuss the rules’ effects and applications by two of the city’s hire-car firms to increase their rates.
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